The Socialist Party is standing a candidate in the general election to highlight the scandal of Rover’s collapse and to call for the renationalisation of the company. Louise Houldey, who has stood three times before in council elections in the Longbridge ward, will stand in the Birmingham Northfield constituency as a Socialist Alternative candidate.
She told the socialist: "John Towers and the rest of the Phoenix Four are walking away with millions while workers are walking away with practically nothing. This community will have its heart ripped out if Longbridge closes or becomes a small producer of ’niche’ cars, yet New Labour has done nothing to save our plant. But we say this does not have to be the end.
"Longbridge must be nationalised today. All workers must be reinstated and production restarted. The Phoenix Four’s hidden millions, as well as the government’s £150 million retraining safety net, must be invested in production."
Successive governments have pumped millions into Rover since privatisation but there has been a spiral of job losses over 16 years, with the profits and perks going to the bosses. Towers and Co. invested more in their own pension scheme than in 6,000 workers’ pensions. The private sector has not kept Rover going, so we say renationalise, don’t subsidise.
A vote for a Socialist Alternative candidate calling for nationalisation of the site and assets is one way to put pressure on Blair but the trade unions must also act now. Another demonstration like in 2000 should be called. Regular community-based meetings should be convened to keep workers who are locked out of the plant up to date with developments.
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor in Coventry and former MP said: "Longbridge can be saved. It’s not too late. But it’s no good relying on the private sector, all they will be interested in would be the MG badge, not the thousands of Longbridge workers or those at suppliers.
"Hundreds of millions of pounds will be spent on regional aid, lost taxes, the payment of benefits, and other social costs associated with the collapse of the company. Far better for that money to be spent on keeping the industry alive. But the first step has to be renationalisation.
"And workers must stop the dismantling of the factory. Just as in the 1970s shipyard workers did in Scotland, and motorbike workers did in Meriden, workers at Longbridge should occupy the plant and demand that the government takes it over and guarantees their jobs."
- Reopen Longbridge, reinstate all workers.
- Nationalise the site and assets.
- Freeze the Phoenix Four’s accounts and open them to scrutiny by the trade unions.
From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales