Tens of Thousands
March against Rover Closure
Tens of thousands of people joined a march through
the centre of Birmingham on Saturday against the sale of Rover and the
devastation this will cause to the workers and to the livelihoods of many
hundreds of thousands throughout the West Midlands and beyond.
Over 40,000 people probably as many as 100,000
marched from the centre to a rally in Cannon Hill Park. Workers were
joined by their families, union officials and church leaders from across the
country for the mass protest which brought roads in the heart of the city to a
standstill. A stream of people stretched back as far as the eye could see with
placards, banners, whistles and drums. At the head of the march were the three
Rover models which are threatened by the sell-off of Rover the 25, 45
and 75. Placards read: "Keep Rover Running!" and "We gave
everything for you!". It took more than an hour for the marchers to cross
the starting point in the city centre.
Bill Morris, general secretary of the TGWU, said: "The
number of people here today shows the level of concern about the company and
about the community whieh relies on it."
Duncan Simpson, chief negotiator for the AEEU, said:
"What you see here is a show of solidarity. Not just Rover workers, but
the whole community and supporters from far afield. We have had coach loads
arrive for this event, including workers from Fords plant in Dagenham who
see their jobs under threat. The message we are sending back to BMW is that
their conduct will not be tolerated by the British people."
Sir Ken Jackson, leader of the AEEU, said: "BMW have
not just stabbed Rover workers in the back they have stabbed the entire
West Midlands in the back by walking away from their commitment."
Roger Lyons, general secretary of the MSF union, referring
to the massive turnout, said: "This has been a phenomenal success but it
is not a funeral for Rover it is a demand for action. We will be doing
all we can to find a solution other than Alchemy Partners. They are part of the
problem we need to find a real solution. The strength we will get from
today will help us in the days and months ahead."
Tony Woodley, of the TGWU, told the marchers: "We are
dealing with total betrayal and the break-up and destruction of Rover. It is
nothing less than industrial sabotage
We will not be treated as cannon
fodder for other people."
A website set up by the AEEU in support of the struggle of
the Rover workers has already received more than 500 messages, including from
as far afield as Australia and the US.
The campaign is set to grow. A meeting has been organised
for next Saturday by the Campaign against Euro-Federalism, details of which are
given in the advert below. There are projects afoot for committees to be set up
to give the opposition an organised basis, as well as proposals to take the
struggle forward, such as a mass charter or petition.