24 November 1999
Recently the Family of Ford has acquired a number of companies Jaguar, Volvo, Kwikfit, Mazda - to name some. Possibly BMW-Rover next?
But Ford is trying to break up Fords by hiving off supply plants, pretending they are a different company called Visteon. The aim is clear. While retaining central control, Ford intends to cause internal competition; they want to use reactionary laws, such as the anti-trade union laws in Britain, to split the solidarity of workers, setting one against another to reduce the wages and conditions of all, starting with the weakest first.
What is the response of the trade unions? If they represented their members interests they would demand one national negotiating committee for the whole Family of Ford trying to achieve the best conditions from each for all.
What are they actually doing? The T&G AEEU MSF and GMB are happy to see the current Ford structure broken down and have no intention of uniting the different parts of the Family of Ford under one committee.
Why? This is because we are going through one of the lowest periods of disgraceful trade union leadership in the history of the unions. The union bureaucracy is quite happy to see weaker structures without the strength to oppose them.
This way they can be sure of union dues flowing in to the union business with as little disruption as possible, while they get on with the partnership party with the employers.Stakeholders (us!) end up with the worst situation. This means we have to fight to change our unions into the best tradition of militancy and uphold the struggles of the past to go forward.
Action needs to be taken now while Ford workers are under the same umbrella. If we wait until Ford breaks Visteon away, with the union leaders nod and a wink, we will be in a much weaker position. The anti-trade union laws will make solidarity action of Ford workers in support of Visteon workers illegal. We have broken the law before and we advocate breaking these unjust laws, but it makes organising in defence of Ford workers much more difficult.
The Family of Ford should be one until such time as we remove the name Ford!