Year 2000 No. 62-63, April 4-5, 2000

The Real Solution to the Rover Crisis – Workers Must Discuss

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

The Real Solution to the Rover Crisis – Workers Must Discuss

Rover News In Brief:
Rover Sell-Off "Causing Midlands Slump"

Car Monopoly Merger News:
Samsung and Renault Extend Talks

"Equality of Freedom in Europe and Africa" Is a Cover for Relations of Exploitation

For Your Information:
Government’s Proposal for "Conflict Prevention" in Africa

Student News:
Proposal for Privatisation of Universities
Students Have Worst Paid Jobs

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The Real Solution to the Rover Crisis – Workers Must Discuss

At the rally at the end of the massive 50,000-plus strong demostration through Birmingham last Saturday, one speaker pointed to a very important point that faces the Rover workers. He said, "We need to find a real solution," adding, "The strength we will get from today will help us in the days and months ahead."

The question is: what will be a real solution to the Rover crisis? The answer to such a question must be discussed in the course of the workers fighting for their rights to be recognised and fighting that the well-being of the people must be guaranteed by society. What has become clear is that the workers have had enough of "solutions" that are not real solutions. The whole history of the car industry in the West Midlands, as well as throughout the country and internationally, has been littered with "solutions" that have given rise to further problems, further crisis. This has been especially so since the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation implemented since the beginning of the 1980s has itself gone into crisis. The monopolies have in response, during the 1990s to the present, under the signboards of globalisation and restructuring to capture and dominate markets, been shifting capital around the world and indulging in mega-mergers and alliances to pursue the maximum capitalist profit. Governments have served this agenda by formulating a so-called "Third Way", or middle way, or such like. One aim has been to promote "social partnership", "partnership for progress", and similar terms in order that the workers will line up with their respective monopoly capitalist employers and make sure that they could compete to the maximum in the global marketplace with the minimum opposition from the workers. The "Third Way" also tries to suggest that in this situation, the trades unions, rather than being organisations of the workers in which they unite together to fight to defend their interests, should become "part of the solution" for the monopoly capitalist concerns to compete. To do otherwise – to show militancy, to fight for class interests, to demand that the capitalists stop devastating the economy – has been criticised as being "part of the problem".

Rover workers have been told to accept such "solutions", and with a heavy heart have at best given the company and the government the benefit of the doubt. Now the illusions promoted by these "Third Way" "solutions" have indeed been shown to be illusions. In the conditions of the intensification of the anti-social offensive, of globalisation and impending world recession and the danger of war for the redivision of markets, the "Third Way", the way of social partnership that is supposedly both pro-worker and pro-capitalist, is now showing its true colours. The real solutions can only start, as is now beginning to happen with Rover, with the workers breaking with passivity and refusing to be reconciled with the position on the margins of society that the government and the monopolies bestow on them.

Indeed, the collective strength of the workers, at the head of the broad masses of the people who face even further devastation of the economy, is what they must rely on in the days and months ahead, as they fight that their livelihoods should be guaranteed as of right and that the well-being of the people should be given a public guarantee. It is from this position and in the course of their struggle that they can discuss what will be a real solution, how to attain a new and modern socialist society in which it is the agenda which they set which holds sway. This is a crucial discussion, one which includes what it is that is blocking the way to the achievement of such a society, and how the workers should get organised to defend their interests and ensure that it is their programme for society which gets implemented.

Article Index


Rover News In Brief

Rover Sell-Off "Causing Midlands Slump"

The impending sell-off of Rover has led to an "alarming slump" in manufacturing confidence and sales, a survey by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has said.

The study says that BMW’s disposal of Rover is starting to "hit home". It shows a downturn in orders among West Midlands’ manufacturers, with few expecting profits to improve. The Chamber’s head, John Hudson, has called for government action to help Britain’s "manufacturing heartland".

Article Index


Car Monopoly Merger News

Samsung and Renault Extend Talks

One of the crucial markets to control for the car monopolies, besides that of Europe, is that of East Asia, including South Korea and Japan.

It is in this context that at the beginning of March, Renault published details of a bid for the Korean monopoly Samsung Motors. Under this bid a joint company owned 70% by Renault and 30% by Samsung would be established and would acquire the operating assets of Samsung Motors for $450m. The purchase would give Renault a way into South Korea’s car market, which is the second largest in Asia, and which is closed to foreign car imports. It follows Renault’s acquisition of a 36.8% stake in Japan’s Nissan Motor, which precipitated a vicious "restructuring" programme.

Samsung Motors, the smallest of South Korea’s three carmakers, was in operation for only a year before being placed in court receivership in June 1999. Renault’s exclusive negotiating rights expired last Friday, following weeks of talks in Seoul and Paris. Renault and Samsung’s creditors have now decided to extend their exclusive talks deadline to April 21. The extension is said to be to allow the creditors time to review a new proposal from Renault. The main creditor is Hanvit Bank, which had wanted a full cash payment.

Article Index


"Equality of Freedom in Europe and Africa" Is a Cover for Relations of Exploitation

On the second day of the EU-Africa summit in Cairo, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, made an intervention stating that "democracy and human rights are now essential conditions for economic development" and "free markets require free people".

According to Robin Cook, the Eurocentric values of the big powers, enshrined in the Paris Charter of 1990, are universal values that should be adopted by the countries of Africa too. What is being expressed here is the demand of the monopolies and financial oligarchy not only in Britain, but throughout the world, that every country must have a free market economy, a multi-party system and what are called human rights based on an outdated notion of democracy, based on the defence of private property.

Robin Cook alleges that the problems of poverty, indebtedness and instability which ravage the African continent can be solved in this manner. He said: "If we want a successful economy, we must each build a free society which: provides universal access to education; ensures the freedom of its people to express their enterprise and their views; guarantees equality of opportunity to both men and women; and respects the independence and transparency of the judiciary, which is the best basis to attract inward investment. We must recognise that the political renaissance of Africa provides the best foundation for the economic renaissance of Africa."

Robin Cook did not mention the fact that it is the legacy of colonialism, increasing globalisation and the continued exploitation of Africa and intervention in its affairs by Britain and the other big powers which prevent African countries from developing on their own independent path. Instead, in his intervention he attempted to put forward a typical "Third Way" approach to the growing disparity between the countries of the EU and of Africa, an attempt to present globalisation with a "human face", where there can allegedly be international co-operation between poor and rich countries and "economic development through aid, debt relief and trade".

The Foreign Secretary has the aim of further developing the enslaving aid and trade relations that Britain has with the countries of Africa which benefit the monopolies and financial oligarchy in Britain have kept the broad masses of the peoples of Africa in abject poverty for so long. Although the British government has said it will cancel bilateral debt for Africa’s 33 states with Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) status, only two countries are currently affected, Uganda and Mozambique, since to qualify for this status, countries have to summit themselves to the dictat of the IMF/World Bank for at least six years. At the same time, it is attempting to further the unequal and exploitative relations that have given rise to such debt in the first place.

Robin Cook’s contention that "free trade must also be fair trade" is at much as odds with objective reality as his attempt to persuade those attending the summit that "we come here as equals". There be no equality between rich and poor countries, nor between the exploiters and the exploited, while "free trade", a "free market-economy", and "equality of freedom in Europe and Africa" are slogans that cannot cover up the reality of globalisation, which bring benefits only to a handful of multinational companies and widens the gap between rich and poor.

Article Index


For Your Information:

Government’s Proposal for "Conflict Prevention" in Africa

At the Africa-Europe Summit in Cairo on April 4, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced that the British government would be conducting a major review of its work on "conflict prevention" in Africa, "aimed at increasing its impact and effectiveness. Government Departments, in particular the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, and the Ministry of Defence, would develop mechanisms for shared assessment and collective priority setting on conflict prevention. This new approach would be supported by a new pooled budget to enable a rapid and flexible response."

Article Index


Student News:

Proposal for Privatisation of Universities

Private firms should be brought in to take over "low-performing" universities, according to a study for the Social Market Foundation. The report has been written by the Labour MP Ian Pearson. It follows in the wake of the lobbying by the Russell Group of "elite" universities that the limit on tuition fees should be lifted in order that they can charge tens of thousands of pounds per annum for their standard of education, forming a "premier league" of universities.

Students Have Worst Paid Jobs

Students take some of the worst paid jobs in Britain, Brendan Barber, deputy secretary of the TUC, told a National Union of Students’ conference in Blackpool.

He announced that the TUC’s "Know Your Rights" number would be printed on the back of every NUS membership card from September.

A spokesperson for the NUS said that the move represented closer links between the NUS and the TUC. She added, "Up to 30% of students say they regularly miss lectures because they are working."

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