As boom turns to bust, more and more working people in England will threaten and be forced to take industrial action as a means of defending themselves from pay cuts and workplace closures.
Even when the economy appears solid, workers face losing their jobs because firms must outsource to boost profits. As if being sacked for no other reason than profit was not bad enough, there’s the absence of a political force workers can rely on – the monotonous refrain from Tory, Liberal, and New Labour politicians is that it is an inevitable and unchangeable fact: it’s globalisation, get used to it, there’s nothing you can do.
Here’s a contemporary example that caught my eye and my sweet tooth:
Workers at Cadbury’s four chocolate factory sites have voted in favour of holding a ballot on strike action.
Last month, the company announced it was closing its factory at Keynsham near Bristol and transferring production to Poland and Birmingham.
Staff in Keynsham, Bournville in Birmingham, Chirk in North Wales and Marlbrook in Herefordshire voted by 1,363 to 130 against the proposals.
They also voted by 1,090 to 312 for a ballot on strike action.
The union will ask the company to reverse the closure decision as well as plans to restructure production and Bournville transferring work to Poland with the loss of 700 jobs in total in the UK.
Brown’s reactionary chant of “British jobs for British workers” is no more than a sloppy slogan borrowed from the fascists, it seems, as there can be no enshrinement of such a policy in law, let alone successful enforcement. It is enough for the ruling class, however, that their man uses racist publications to bash immigrants, thus dividing workers, just as long as he doesn’t stop the import of labour or the export of jobs, so vital to boosting profit margins.
The response from the labour movement should be to demand that workplaces threatened with offshore outsourcing are protected from closure and, if necessary, taken over by the workers. If it can be done with bicycles, it can be done with chocolate and anything else you care to mention…
By the way, if the Cadbury’s workers are forced to emulate the Strike Bike action, I recommend “English chocolate for English teeth” as a humourous slogan with which to both advertise the product and satirise the Prime Minister’s ridiculous posturing.