Thousands of workers gathered in Coventry at the end of
November to protest against the closure of the Jaguar plant in Brown’s
Lane with a projected loss of 1150 jobs. Workers from Brown’s Lane were
joined by large contingents from Jaguar plants in Halewood, Merseyside
and Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands. There were workers present
from across the industry – Rover, Land Rover, Peugeot and Vauxhall
banners were all present along with other banners from unions such as
the PCS, CWU, UNISON, Amicus and T&G.
was a good atmosphere on the demo, and a friendly response from the
public as it proceeded through the city centre. The march ended in the
centre and there were a number of speakers including TUC General
Secretary Brendan Barber, Tony Woodley of the T&G and Derek Simpson
Woodley said: "This is a dispute to stop British workers and Jaguar
workers being the cannon fodder of multinational companies".
O’Brien, Labour MP for North Warwickshire, described the closing of
Brown’s Lane as a hammer blow for manufacturing in the West Midlands.
He also said that it would be felt by the whole community, because
there are many more jobs that are reliant on the Jaguar plant.
16 year old school boy from a family who have worked for Jaguar for
generations illustrated how important these jobs are saying: "Why
should they close the place when it’s one of Jaguar’s most productive
factories? My generation should have the opportunity to work in their
planning to close Brown’s Lane and its R&D plant in Whitley. They
have said that production at the remaining two plants will be stepped
up. The march was intended to build support and give a boost to the yes
vote for strike action. The ballot runs till December 13th.
bought Jaguar in 1989 with financial assistance from the British
government. Since then over £9 million of government money has been
ploughed into Jaguar. In 1998 jaguar signed agreements with the unions
promising that the future of West Midlands plants would be secure. As
late as this September when they cut production by 15,000 cars they
were still guaranteeing the plants future. However for companies like
this nothing is as important as profit and that is what the recent
closures are about. After 14 years of government subsidies they are
preparing to cut and run at Browns Lane. Jaguar’s main market is now
the US where they have 60% of their sales. Many workers are now
questioning what their long terms motives are with regard to UK sites.
unions must take a decisive stand. The car industry has been battered
enough. We should not accept any further job losses, plant closures or
attacks on wages and conditions.
best form of defence is attack. The membership can only be mobilised on
the basis of a serious fight and a positive programme for the industry.
We should be fighting for improvements in wages and working conditions,
and a shorter working week with no loss of wages (where overcapacity
exists it should be easy to cut the working day).
the same time the unions must put pressure on the Labour Government to
nationalise under workers control the assets of any company that is
attacking conditions or shutting plant. It is therefore important that
we take this struggle into the Labour Party to chuck out the careerist
clique that has hijacked it and fight for socialist policies in the
interests of our members.