Hundreds of Rolls-Royce workers and their supporters marched through Liverpool on 8 February to protest against the company’s plans to close its plant in Bootle and transfer the work to the US, with the loss of 200 jobs. The Bootle workers were joined by solidarity delegations from other Rolls Royce plants including Bristol and Derby.
The plans for the closure come shortly after Rolls Royce announced £800 million in profits, up by 13% from £705 million in 2007, and promised its shareholders a 35% increase in pay outs.
The protest in Liverpool was addressed by Tony Woodley - whose record of saving jobs in the car industry is not exactly sparkling, as workers at Longbridge, Ford Dagenham, Vauxhall Luton and others sites have found out to their cost. Woodley’s strategy, naturally, is to plead with Gordon Brown to find an alternative private owner for the plant.
Socialists should demand nationalisation, without a penny of compensation, under workers’ control. Meanwhile, on 10 February, the workers voted almost unanimously at on-site meeting to ballot for industrial action. It will take determined strikes, backed by tactics like occupation of the factory, to prevent the closure going ahead.