Threat to Close Dagenham:
Ford Workers Must Affirm their
Having announced that 1,500 workers are to lose
their jobs at Dagenham, the Ford monopoly is refusing to give any assurances
about the plants future, saying that nothing is ruled in or out.
It should be noted that the whole scenario, the context of
the announcement and the opposition of the trade unions to the job losses and
threatened closure, is being presented in terms of the outlook of the monopoly
capitalists. Ford of Europe chairman Nick Scheele put this context as one where
Fords "overcapacity" is a "significant restraint on our
operating performance". He has said that monopolys financial
performance was unacceptable, that Ford Europe had capacity for 2.25 million
units but sold only 1.7 million and that the cut-backs at Dagenham were
"the optimal way for Ford of Europe to address its overcapacity
situation". Production at the Dagenham plant has already fallen to 191,000
units in 1999 from 250,359 units in 1998 according to Ford figures. The union
representatives have also spoken in terms of the problem being one of
If the problem is presented in such terms, then the issue
becomes one of how to "share the pain" in order that the inevitable
suffering is minimised and shared among all Ford workers. The political context
is one where the Labour government is practically making it obligatory for all
workers to think this way, on pain of being included in the "forces of
conservatism". Under the Blairite vision, "social partnership"
is necessary so that workers and their organisations become part of the
solution to making the monopolies "successful" in the global
marketplace rather than being "part of the problem", in other words
standing in the way of such "rationalisations", dealing with the
problems of "overcapacity" by throwing thousands of workers onto the
streets here or taking in government handouts there. In other words, workers
are to have no role apart from being an adjunct to the difficult business of
the financial oligarchy making the maximum capitalist profits, a "labour
cost" in the equation of globalisation, the competition for markets, the
amassing of maximum profits, the accumulation of capital. The workers are
dehumanised in other ways in this scenario. Their jobs are there to be
"shed", their livelihoods are put at risk in the name of finding
solutions to "long-term structural problems". "Prosperity"
is made synonymous with the success of these monopolies rather than the
development of a sound national economy and the investment in social
programmes. In this scenario, the government is only to ready to see the fabric
of society torn apart, whatever it might say, and opposition to the dictates of
the rich, an opposition which departs from the guidelines of the Third Way
philosophy, is condemned and increasingly made into a criminal matter.
In this situation, it is crucial that the Ford workers, in
common with the whole working class, affirm their rights. The crises in
society, the crisis of overproduction as well as all the other problems of
jobless growth, the destruction of the manufacturing base, and so on, are not
of their making. They have a right to a livelihood which in a modern society
should be recognised, and they must affirm this right. Why should not the
problems of the economy, as well as all the other social problems, be solved in
their favour? Is it not their right that they should decide what happens to
their social product? The working class and people have a right to take control
of what belongs to them, and they cannot accept that the "right"
bestowed on the financial oligarchy by the accumulation of capital and the
ownership of the means of production takes precedence.
The logic of the anti-social offensive against the people
is that the rich have a prior claim on all the assets and resources of society,
and the claims of the working class and people are at best subsidiary claims.
In opposition to this, Ford workers must take a stand: we demand that our
rights are recognised, we demand that society be organised so that our claims
are met, we demand the right to determine the direction of the economy, we
demand enabling legislation to guarantee our right to a livelihood!