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THE WORKERS PARTY

Support the GKN strikers!

The Workers Party of Britain applauds the decision of GKN Driveline workers at Chester Road plant in Birmingham to strike against management plans to shut the site down, wipe out over 500 jobs and transfer the work to sites in Europe. Strength of feeling is such that the strike ballot notched up 95% in favour on a 95% turnout.

It was on 28 January this year that GKN bosses announced that the plant, which makes drivelines for JLR and other automotive companies, is to close in eighteen months time, since which the clock has been ticking.

This is but the latest act of premeditated vandalism to be committed by GKN’s owners and puppet masters, Melrose Industries, since the latter took the company over in an £8 billion hostile bid in 2018. The public outcry at seeing GKN fall prey to these notorious asset-strippers prompted the government to make a show of insisting that, if the takeover were to go ahead, Melrose must promise to invest in GKN’s future in the UK. The takeover went ahead. Then, to nobody’s very great surprise, the news broke that GKN’s Kings Norton factory in Birmingham, making aircraft windscreens, was to close with a loss of 170 jobs, in flagrant breach of the undertakings Melrose had given.

And now comes the news that the Chester Road plant is to go down the pan, robbing over 500 jobs and delivering another body blow to engineering in the Midlands.

When the Kings Norton closure was announced, a spokeswoman for Melrose made a point of saying that the decision was taken by GKN management, without any pressure from the parent company. The lady did protest too much, only succeeding in drawing attention to the way in which GKN’s future has become a plaything in the claws of vulture capitalists. 

GKN, which traces its history back to the founding of the Dowlais Ironworks Company in 1759, was effectively ambushed by the Melrose chancers. What proved decisive in the takeover battle was the more than 20 percent of GKN shares held by hedge funds and other short-term, get rich quick investors. These fly-by-night shares just tipped the balance in favour of the raiders, giving them a total of just 52.43. percent. 

The future of companies like GKN is just too important to be gambled away in a speculative frenzy driven by short-term greed, with no long-term interest in developing the country’s manufacturing base. Sooner or later workers will have to bite the bullet and demand that if the future of British manufacture cannot be safeguarded under capitalism, then it must be prised loose from the fetter of private ownership and nationalised.