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The Socialist 4 April 2007 |
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Action needed as Ford bosses close Leamington plant
CAR WORKERS are responding angrily to the closure of Ford's Leamington foundry in the West Midlands. This will cause over 350 job losses, with the knock-on effect of a further 175 (about one-third of the workforce) going in Visteon's Swansea plant. Swansea gets rough stock for its brake production from Leamington.
A Visteon worker
The Swansea shop stewards' committee were told that the brake work was ending just minutes after Leamington's closure was announced at the Ford National Joint Negotiating Committee. Clearly this is a joint strategy by Ford and Visteon.
Once again, workers are left to wonder about the murky relationship between Ford and Visteon, its former component-making plants - supposedly totally independent companies!
However, both companies are in for a surprise. In plant meetings on 30 March, Swansea workers voted almost unanimously to ballot for industrial action. This is in opposition to Visteon breaking sourcing agreements by exiting disc production early, as well as the associated job losses.
As union convenor Rob Williams told the workforce: "The company might think that because about 70 of the job losses are for temporary workers and that redundancies are voluntary, this will soften the blow. Firstly, whether workers are permanent or temporary, they are still our members. Temporary workers losing their jobs are really compulsory redundancies. Secondly, the main job of the trade union is to fight for jobs not sell them."
Leamington will be having plant meetings on 4 April, when the stewards will be asking for union permission to ballot against the closure. Ford are hoping that their 'golden' cheque book will do the trick again. This has happened many times before, in Dagenham Assembly, Croydon, Langley and Jaguar's Brown's Lane and many others. As now, workers could transfer to another facility. But with each closure, this chance gets less and less.
If Ford can close Leamington, only seven Ford facilities remain and only five of those are involved in manufacturing.
Workers in the Ford-owned Premier Auto Group (PAG) Jaguar/Land Rover plants in Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood must also be casting a concerned eye to the Aston Martin plant which has just been sold off.
In Visteon, products are threatened in Belfast (which is already balloting), Basildon and Enfield. Clearly, this is the first dose of medicine in the UK which has already been dished out to Ford's US workers.
This is the perfect opportunity to stop the Ford/Visteon drift out of the UK to low-wage economies. As soon as successful ballots are recorded in Leamington, Swansea and Belfast, a joint national meeting of Ford, PAG and Visteon senior shop stewards should be convened to argue the case for national industrial action against the plant closure and job losses.