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Year 2001 Number 10, January 19, 2001Archive Search Home Page

Carry the Struggle for a Guaranteed Livelihood through to the End!

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Carry the Struggle for a Guaranteed Livelihood through to the End!

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Carry the Struggle for a Guaranteed Livelihood through to the End!

THE RALLY AND MARCH in support of Vauxhall workers on January 20 is part of the same workers' movement which has seen Rolls Royce, Rover and Ford workers in action against the monopoly groups.

The decisions these monopolies try to impose serve no one but themselves. We are indeed witnessing an upsurge in the activity of the workers' movement. Workers are more and more refusing to be passive. Their livelihoods are at stake, as are the livelihoods of the broad masses of the people. This upsurge is an excellent trend. It is a trend which it is in the workers' interests to carry further. It carries with it the potential of the workers coming out of the margins and asserting their right to intervene politically and be at the centre of national decision making.

Car workers are in the forefront in taking defence of their rights and interests to the streets. In December we saw the extent of the militancy with the siege on Vauxhall’s headquarters and the justified anger of the Luton workers. Thousands of car workers at GM-owned Vauxhall walked out in sympathy in support of 2,000 fellow workers. The solidarity action brought Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, to a standstill after 1,500 staff went home. Employees at Vauxhall's Luton warehouse also walked out after hearing the town factory will close within 15 months.

The actions reflect that the workers are rejecting the ideas of "social partnership" and are rejecting the notion of staying passive and handing over their fate to others. Anyone who thought that the class struggle would die down after Christmas has been proved wrong. In fact the general movement against the effects of the anti-social offensive has continued to develop. Post Office workers, teachers, hospital workers, London Underground workers, steel workers and a whole set of workers involved in struggles against job cuts and increased exploitation are taking action at present.

These actions of the workers and other sections of the people are both just and necessary. At the same time, all these struggles raise the question of who it is who should decide in which direction society is going. Should not society move in the direction of guaranteeing a livelihood so the burden is not placed on the individual to provide themselves with food, clothing and shelter? Should not the workers take a stand on this question?

The fabric of society and the national economy are coming under such pressure from the retrogressive direction of the anti-social offensive and globalisation. We can see that the crisis in health and education is deepening. The fiasco of the privatised railways has proved to be an indictment of the argument that people benefit when maximum capitalist profit is put in command.

Under the present conditions it is the workers who must come to the forefront and decide where society is heading. In this period of a run-up to an election, the focus must start to shift towards the workers and their programme. There is a space for change and workers must contemplate filling that space. Workers can sum up their experience and draw the conclusion that they themselves must become the politicians - worker politicians! - and implement their programme.

It is true that GM's plans for Vauxhall are industrial vandalism, as were BMW's plans for Rover at Longbridge, as are Ford's plans for Dagenham, and so on. The question therefore is not only how to get these multi-national bosses to honour their agreements - it is also how to put an end to the industrial vandalism and sabotage of the national economy! It is only the working class which is putting forward that a livelihood is a human right, as part of its programme to chart a way out of this crisis towards the kind of socialist society which guarantees such rights of the working class and people.

To carry this struggle through to the end is the urgent task which the workers must prepare to take up. The actions of the workers at Vauxhall now and at Rover before them have shown that workers can and must take centre stage in political life. The future nation which the workers can and must build will have their collective character. For the workers to get organised to become worker politicians is the immediate task which can and must emerge from their struggles now in defence of their livelihoods.

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