Ford Axes 1,500 Jobs at Dagenham
Once More the Question: Who
The Ford car monopoly has axed 1,500 jobs at its
plant in Dagenham after a slump in sales which has hit production of the
Fiesta. Ford announced on Friday that the Dagenham factory will switch to a
single shift in place of the present two in the body and paint, trim and
assembly plants from the beginning of August. The engine factory will stay on
two shifts. The factory has been on short-time working for over a
Ford has also warned the workers that the future could
bring more cuts to the 9,000-strong workforce. The US monopoly threatened that
the Dagenham plant could even close entirely. It blames
"overcapacity" in the European car market for its problems and is
targeting Dagenham because of "declining industrial relations".
Tony Woodley, national official of the Transport and
General Workers Union, accused Ford of taking advantage of Britains
labour laws, saying, "It is cheap, quick and easy to sack British
workers." He said that the TGWU would fight to keep Dagenham open.
"Two years ago we assisted Ford by closing the Ford Halewood plant on
Merseyside for Ford production. That allowed them to spread their production
costs across the rest of Europe. Under those arrangements it was made clear
that Dagenham would have a new model and a future," he added.
Once again a major car factory in Britain owned by a
foreign monopoly is under threat of closure, with workers being thrown onto the
streets and communities decimated, causing dislocation and disruption to the
Only ten days before the announcement, the head of Ford
Europe, Nick Scheele, stated that it had not been ruled out that the new Fiesta
could be manufactured at Fords Cologne plant, pointing out that with the
development of globalisation, Europe is to be considered as one whole region in
which production can be shifted at the monopolys will in the interests of
competitiveness. With the announcement, Nick Scheele said that the company is
to continue to keep all of its European operations under review, pointing out
that "Dagenham has been running substantially below capacity with
significant down time for many months". It has also been hinted by Ford
that their future decisions may be influenced if the government were to promise
to give them handouts, as they have already promised to the tune of over
£150 million to the BMW-owned Rover plant at Longbridge.
This state of affairs brings home once again one most
important question: who decides? The monopoly capitalists take it for granted
that they should have complete freedom to make the decisions as to whether
thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of workers should have a livelihood or
not. The government backs them up by telling the workers to take it for granted
that the monopolies should be the ones to have the final decision in the
interests of being competitive in the global marketplace. But should not the
workers take the decisions? This is not simply a question of jobs or no jobs.
In this respect, workers should demand that a livelihood be recognised as a
human right. But should a government leave it to the dictate of the monopolies
as to what is in the interests of the national economy, and the most that the
workers can expect of these monopolies is that they should allow workers to
"share the pain" with workers elsewhere? Should the workers not
participate in deciding whether society as a whole needs more or less cars
manufactured, along with similar decisions in all other sectors of the economy?
In other words, it raises the whole question of the direction of the economy
and who sets the agenda.
The workers need to get organised not only to fight against
the ravages of globalisation and the onslaught of the anti-social offensive,
but to fight for a pro-social programme and that they be the ones who should
set the agenda. To do so is to advance along the line of march which will
result in establishing a socialist Britain in which it is the workers who
constitute the nation, and the power to make the decisions on the direction of
the economy rests with the people themselves and not with the monopolies and
governments which act in the interests of the finance capitalists who own and
control these monopolies.