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Fight for all Vauxhall jobs
JUST BEFORE Christmas it was announced that when production of the Vauxhall Vectra was finished, the replacement model would not be made at the Luton plant. This means that in effect mass production at the plant would cease.
David Wevill, Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant, personal capacity
This announcement was made over the local radio station and the workforce were the last to know. Nick Reilly, the boss of Vauxhall Motors UK (VM), tried to explain it to an angry workforce protesting at VM headquarters. Angry walkouts followed at Luton and Ellesmere Port, in support of the Luton workforce.
The announcement that production of the Frontera would be moved to Luton was of no comfort to the workers. This model only has two or three years to run and it is not produced in the same numbers as the Vectra.
What is in effect the announcement of the closure of the Luton plant is only the tip of the iceberg. General Motors, the parent company, is also closing plants in Poland and Hungary.
The insult to the workers is doubled by the fact that two years ago VM UK workers were persuaded to accept a poor pay deal under threat of the closure of the Luton plant. There were written guarantees that Luton would get the replacement to the Vectra.
The closure has been blamed on the high pound but a national newspaper even claimed that a bad review by Jeremy Clarkson was to blame!
As for the high pound, when the pound was low we were told that the company could not afford to give us a decent rise because they had to buy expensive parts from the continent. So exchange rates have always been the excuse.
General Motors, along with the other multinationals, have never had much sentiment when it comes to closing down car plants when it suits them. This was shown in the film by Michael Moore (Roger and Me) in which GM closed down several plants in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of GM, making 35,000 workers unemployed.
The reason for the closures, despite improvements in productivity and quality, is overproduction. The car industry in its hunger for profits, has competed ruthlessly. By driving the workers even harder and flooding the market, it is now making the workers pay for their mistakes. All the US indicators suggest this is the starting point of a big recession and the car industry is always the first to feel it. Hence redundancies at Rover and the halting of car production at Ford Dagenham.
All redundancies must be resisted. The European Works Council of GM workers employees has called for a Europe-wide day of action in support of our fellow workers in Luton.
This must be given a definite date and strike action should be prepared among all GM employees in order to defend jobs and living standards against multinationals. Workers must organise Europe-wide and even worldwide.
In The Socialist 12 January 2001: