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Year 2001 No. 28, February 14, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Vauxhall Workers’ Strike Vote

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Vauxhall Workers’ Strike Vote

Black Country Workers Give Their Views

Police Man-Handle Disabled Demonstrators

News In Brief
Prudential to Axe 2,000 Jobs

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Vauxhall Workers’ Strike Vote

Workers belonging to the TGWU at Vauxhall have voted to strike. The workers voted by 58% in favour of strike action, to fight the plan of General Motors (GM) to close the Luton plant. The closure is scheduled for 12 months time, and 2,000 workers would lose their jobs.

Workers in the AEEU and MSF unions voted against strike action. But the AEEU said a majority of its members had called for industrial action short of a walkout.

Union leaders themselves have began a campaign aimed at convincing Vauxhall to reverse the decision. They point out that the US multinational carmaker is singling out operations in Britain unfairly in a cuts programme affecting the company's operations across Europe.

The Vauxhall management have denied that Britain was suffering more cuts than the company's other production sites in Europe. Vauxhall have announced that it is planning to invest £200m in its Ellesmere Port plant.

The struggle of the Vauxhall workers has broad support both in Britain, in Europe and elsewhere.

Workers of the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the US have written letters in support of the workers at GM's Luton plant.

Stephen P. Yokich, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), and Richard Shoemaker, UAW vice-president, on behalf of the workers have expressed strong support for the Vauxhall workers in letters to the three British trade unions. Richard Shoemaker is responsible for the UAW's contacts with General Motors.

The letters confirm that the successful rallies in Luton and across Europe in recent weeks have been an inspiring demonstration of the unity of the workers at Luton, in the workers’ movement in Britain, and in the GM European Works Council.

The union leaders write: "The UAW supports the determination of workers at GM's Luton plant to preserve their jobs and the jobs of thousands of other autoworkers in the UK and throughout Europe. GM must not be allowed to violate commitments made or obligations to provide information and consult with its workforce before it makes decisions that affect them." The letter ends: "You can count on the solidarity of the UAW in the fight to win a just and fair solution for the workers at Luton."

WDIE supports the workers’ decision to fight in defence of their jobs. Their struggle is in favour of the interests of the working class as a whole. Why should the workers not be the ones who decide their own fate?

Article Index

———Workers and Politics ———

This is the column of WDIE on the conditions of the workers and on the agenda the workers themselves are setting to overcome their marginalisation and to take up politics. We encourage all our readers to contribute to the politicisation of the workers and write for this column

Black Country Workers Give Their Views

Recently workers from the Black Country have spoken to Workers' Weekly/WDIE reporters and have also been writing to the local press airing their views about economic arrangements. Some have shown how sceptical they are about what is being said regarding investment much publicised by the press.

Bill Melia, from Wednesbury recently wrote, "While all the news that we are getting about the standing of the country as far as investment from concerns outside the United Kingdom are talked about, we are told that we are attracting more investment than ever before and our economy is booming."

He goes on to say, "I have started to notice that though the jobs created are welcome, it seems to me that it is all too easy for these firms to withdraw from their responsibility to the workforce who are filling these jobs and make them redundant, and with the least concern to the after effects of their decision."

Another worker told Workers Weekly/WDIE, "The problem these days is the big multinational corporations who just shift their capital wherever they want to. It's all about profit regardless of the people who work there. What is needed is a government that stands up to these corporations before it is too late."

"Today," the worker said, "Industry Secretary Stephen Byers is regurgitating the same kind of false hope that the Thatcherites came out with after the massive destruction of manufacture in the 1980s, that the 'economy of the West Midlands must be modernised and diversify from its traditional manufacturing base.' Of course large parts of the Black Country and the rest of the West Midlands never really did re-develop."

On the issue of privatisation of health service work, John Howard of Stourbridge said recently, "UNISON members on strike at the Dudley Hospitals Trust have been mobilised and motivated by the arrogance of the trust in thinking that these low-paid workers are seen as an easy target who no-one will support."

He continued, "However, they have plenty of backing from the public and from other unions. They could do with support on the picket lines from medical and nursing staff, all it needs is a little time. It could be your turn next. Look at the problems at Worcester and Kidderminster before it is too late for Dudley."

John Howard went on to say, "Local members of Parliament are hard to find, except at election time. Eventually MPs Mr Ian Pearson and with Miss Debra Shipley attended a meeting with the strikers. Miss Shipley made a certain amount of sense. Mr Pearson, on the other hand, was nervous and evasive."

Article Index

——— In Defence of the Rights of All ———

Police Man-Handle Disabled Demonstrators

Police in Birmingham physically evicted six disabled demonstrators yesterday who were part of a protest against council taxi licences. The six handcuffed themselves to furniture in a demonstration against access rights in taxis. People are outraged by the council decision to license the Peugeot Euro 7 Taxi as a Hackney Carriage. The vehicle is not suitable for disabled users.

The group assembled and entered Birmingham City Council Offices at the Council House shortly after 1pm on Monday. They militantly occupied a suite of offices used by council leader Albert Bore.

A spokesperson for "Direct Action Network" said, "The Peugeot Taxi will not even carry the standard wheelchair, let alone an electric wheelchair."

WDIE condemns the police for their actions and wholeheartedly supports the demonstration of the disabled people. People who are differently abled must be allowed to take their place in society as human beings, and their rights as a collective must be recognised and their needs met by society.

Article Index

News In Brief

Prudential to Axe 2,000 Jobs

Britain’s second-biggest insurer, Prudential, is to cut 2,000 jobs, almost one fifth of its workforce in Britain, in a "restructuring" of its direct sales team.

The job losses in the sales and administration units will leave the company with 9,500 staff in Britain, down from the current 11,500.

The company said it would be replacing its direct sales force of 1,400 consultants by a smaller specialised force of qualified advisors. The new team will provide a "face-to-face financial planning service", and is expected to grow to around 250 advisors.

The cost of the "restructuring" is expected to amount to £110m. However, from 2002 the company predicts that it will save about £135m annually, before tax.

The market for insurance has become increasingly competitive with an explosion in direct sales through the Internet and over the phone.

"The drive for lower pricing in the UK means that it is no longer economic for us to maintain a large salaried face-to-face workforce," said John Elbourne, the chief executive of Prudential UK operations.

Banking unions described the announcement as "devastating" and said that representatives were holding urgent meetings with the company to try to minimise the effect of the job cuts.

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