Workers at Jaguar in Coventry are voting in a strike ballot as part of the unions' campaign to prevent the closure of the Browns Lane plant. The result will be announced on 14 December. 2,000 took part in a protest march in Coventry on Saturday 27 November.
Jaguar is owned by Ford, who are predicting losses in the near future.
It's not clear whether the unions intend anything more than a token protest strike. Only production line workers have been balloted, a decision attributed by some to the fact that the unions were slow in getting their resistance organised.
“The redundancy package is one of the best that's been offered in the industry for twenty years,” says Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party, a councillor in Coventry and vice-chair of one of the union branches which covers Browns Lane staff, “and there have already been enough volunteers amongst the staff grades to deliver the job cuts Ford wants.
“The unions waited for weeks to announce the demonstration and the strike ballot, and in the meantime the company wrote to everyone offering them early access to their pension and big redundancy payments.”
Workers at Browns Lane feel betrayed. “Ford told us our jobs were safe, and now they’ve just walked away from that promise. It doesn’t stop with us, though,” said Dave, one of the union stewards from Browns Lane on the protest march. “This is a threat to every Ford site in the UK. If we don't stop the closure at Browns Lane, they’ll be after cuts throughout the UK to satisfy their shareholders back in the USA.”
None of the speakers at the rally put forward any kind of strategy for defeating Ford over the future of Browns Lane. The unions’ demands for more talks, and better rights to consultation, wouldn’t in themselves result in a single saved job. Only a concerted fight across the industry could do that, and the unions need to prove to their members that they’re willing and able to organise such a fight.