BMW Preparing to Sell
Threats, Threats and More Threats
What Is the Alternative?
BMW is to announce today that it will sell the Rover
cars division. This puts the future not only of the Longbridge plant at risk,
and together with that the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers
throughout the West Midlands, but also puts on the line the future of the other
Rover plants in Britain, in Cowley and Solihull.
Workers should also note that this comes at a time when the
future of the Ford Dagenham is also under threat because of the
"unprofitability" and "low productivity" of the factory and
the move by Ford to concentrate production in Germany.
This saga has been going on as long as the workers can
remember. When a deal was struck in November 1998, resulting in more job losses
and the introduction of flexible working practices which put further pressure
on the workers, it was said that this was an end to "fear for the
future", a victory for "social partnership", and a
"win-win" situation for workers and management. BMW secured a promise
from the government of hundreds of millions of pounds in this situation,
provided it did not run foul of the European Commissioners decision on
free competition with the European Union. In short, the lot of the workers has
always been one of uncertainty, of being told their fate is in someone
elses hands, but that there is no alternative, or even, against the plain
facts which stuck out like a sore thumb, that to accept the agenda of the
capitalists was the best way they could benefit.
This can be summed up by saying that no rights of the
workers as a collective have been recognised either by the BMW monopoly or by
the government. Their whole future has been made contingent on BMWs
success in the global market, in a situation of heavily sharpened competition
and a cut-throat imperative to dominate the market, particularly in Europe,
where, because of the competition, there is a massive overproduction of
The workers cannot accept that this should be the case.
There is an alternative, there is a way out of the crisis, and that consists of
workers getting organised to assert their rights and fight against the
anti-social offensive. In particular, they must get organised on the basis of
setting the agenda themselves, and refusing to accept that they should exist on
the margins of society, a victim of the agenda of the monopolies. This is the
only way that the workers can begin to turn things around, so that they begin
to take up the question of building a society which is in their favour.
We will continue to provide coverage of the Rover situation
as it develops and do everything we can to assist the Rover workers in
affirming their rights. We hold that it is the development of the workers
movement itself against the anti-social offensive and for a society which
guarantees their rights that will provide the way forward out of the crisis. We
invite the participation of Rover workers in how to develop this pro-social