A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bosch kicks working class hard

After all the talking, Bosch are closing the plant taking the jobs of 900 workers and their families. Yet again, a multi-national company are moving out of Wales and the UK after years of profit-making at the workforce's expense and millions of Welsh taxpayers' pounds to make even more profit in the low wage economy of Eastern Europe. We need to send them the message - this plant will close in 18 months over our dead body! Rather than talk redundancy, our union has to shout to Bosch, the Welsh Assembly and the New Labour Government in London - No Closure, No Job Losses! The only language that the Company will listen to is if the workforce is prepared to take industrial action. Unite members in the Visteon Plants occupied when their company went into administration last year. They couldn't save the plants but they forced former owner Ford to stump up big redundancy money. Linamar in Swansea were forced to reinstate sacked Unite Convenor Rob Williams, who is a member of the Socialist Party after his members voted to strike. The workers there were given confidence by a huge public rally which showed the workers how much support they had. The same sympathy exists for Bosch workers now.

Bosch workers have made countless sacrifices over the last few years to stop the plant closing but the thanks of management is to recommend the closure of the plant in Miskin. We should demand the opening of the books. Let's see if this closure is not about making more profits as we believe. Give the Company accounts to the union to look at in front of the shop stewards and the workforce. In any case, after 18 months of the worst recession since the 1930s, we can't afford any more closures and mass job losses.Thousands of other workers in Wales and the UK will also lose their jobs if the plant closes in the supplier companies.After months of "warnings", Bosch have announced that they will close their car components plant in Miskin in 18 months' time - and move production to Hungary. They say that their Hungarian operation can do the work for 2/3 the cost. If Bosch get away with this, 900 workers at the plant will lose their jobs. Thousands of other Welsh and UK jobs also depend on the car industry supply chain.Back in October, a Bosch spokesperson told the press that the South Wales plant was working with Bosch Germany on the next generation of alternators - cutting edge technology.

But, it seems, the plant will not be allowed to put the alternator it helped to design into production. Yet again, a multi-national company is moving out of Wales and the UK, after years of profit-making at the workforce's expense - and millions of Welsh taxpayers' pounds in order to make even more profit in the low wage economy of Eastern Europe. Thousands of jobs in Wales have gone in the last 18 months. Official figures list unemployment at 125,000. We cannot afford to lose these jobs - some of the most skilled we have. Bosch also runs an apprenticeship scheme, which receives an avalanche of applications every year, despite an extremely demanding selection process. When Bosch cut 600 jobs at the plant last year, no action was taken because these workers were on casual and agency contracts. Despite all the Welsh Assembly's retraining efforts, a large percentage of those workers still haven't found jobs. Even many of those who are in work have had to take a big cut in pay and conditions.

Bosch workers need to demand nationalisation. If the government can take over banks, they can take over factories to save jobs. Clearly, Bosch is not ready to move production, yet. That means that workers can still have leverage on the company. In the mass meeting held at the plant on Saturday, the union told workers that the only issue was how much redundancy they could get. The threat of industrial action could change the situation completely and put the company on the back foot. If workers at Bosch fight, they have the chance of keeping the plant open. At worst, a fight would force Bosch to put more money on the table to secure a closure. Last year, Unite members in the car component sector showed it was possible to fight and win victories against the odds. Workers at the three (Ex-Fords) Visteon plants occupied their plants, when the company filed for bankruptcy. Although the occupations didn't manage to keep the plants open, they did force Fords to offer large redundancy payments. At the Linamar (ex-Fords/Visteon) plant in Swansea, management sacked the convenor ( and Socialist Party member) Rob Williams, last summer - and then were forced to reinstate him after the workforce took an overwhelming vote for strike action. Workers from car plants far and wide had pledged their support and hundreds had come down to Swansea for a rally of support. Bosch workers will have the same support - and support from the general public - if they decide to fight.

Yet more ghost towns and working-class families on the breadline. Emergency times require emergency measures. Miskin Plant should be nationalised. If it was good for the banks why can't manufacturing plants be taken into public ownership to save jobs and communities? If necessary, alternative products should be produced. The alternative is a disaster.

No comments: