Support Asda Queslett workers; don’t let machines come before jobs nor profit before people

automation asda_dec 2018.indd

Staff at ASDA in Queslett, Great Barr, are fed up with the imposition of “scan and go” machines, taking the place of the usual checkout tills. Where once there were 31 manned tills, there are now only 20, and workers fear that up to a dozen jobs may go by February next year.

 As well as the threat to jobs in an area of very high unemployment, staff also complain that the “scan and go” machines will disadvantage users who cannot supply an email address, particularly the elderly and children.

The enterprising workers have taken their case onto the streets, plastering “Save Our Jobs” posters on bus stops and lamposts in nearby streets and asking customers to boycott the new machines. As well as trying to cut costs by substituting robots for wage-earners, bosses are also sweating the remaining checkout workers harder, demanding that staff should scan 22 items every 60 seconds!

 Bosses blame a competitive retail market for making these cost-cutting measures necessary, but why should workers pay with their sweat and their jobs to preserve the profits of capitalism?

 So long as the means of production are privately owned, automation is a constant threat to workers’ job security.

Birmingham Worker supports the fight of the Asda workers for jobs and employment. Workers must make it difficult for employers to implement measures which put profits before people.

Under a planned socialist economy there will be full employment, nobody will be denied the right to perform some useful work for society. In such a system of economy automation can lighten the burden of labour and free workers up for other useful and interesting kinds of work. That is why we should fight for socialism and bring an end to the anarchy and chaos of capitalism.

FT leaks plans by Jaguar Land Rover to axe 5,000 jobs

jlr

FT says company plans to axe thousands of jobs in Birmingham area

At the end of November, following a slump in sales, JLR announced job losses at its Solihull plant, following hard on the heels of its move last April to wipe out 1,000 of the total 9,000 jobs. JLR plans to move production of the Discovery to Slovakia, whilst Solihull is retooled to produce electric cars with a smaller workforce.

Worse was reported yesterday when the FT and Guardian announced that insiders had said more than 5,000 jobs are to be axed:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/16/jaguar-land-rover-to-axe-up-to-5000-jobs 

https://www.ft.com/content/c4f06f8e-ff99-11e8-aebf-99e208d3e521

Over at JLR’s engine-building plant in Wolverhampton, weak demand has forced the company to extend the Christmas shut-down by two weeks.

The global overproduction crisis continues to put the squeeze right across  the automotive industry, sparking the beginnings of a workers’ revolt. Over at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant, successive waves of redundancies have seen the workforce shrink from 1,900 to 1,100. In November, when a further 241 redundancies were announced, workers responded with a mass walk-out.

Whilst JLR blames variously the “demonisation of diesel” and Brexit for the company’s problems, the fundamental cause is to be found in the anarchy of capitalist production, which creates regular overproduction crises. This means that capitalism produces far too many things than can be consumed – rather than producing the things which are needed, it produces items for maximum profit. This drive for maximum profit also means that many processes are automated to be carried out by robots – a process which also puts many thousands out of work.

Until the means of production – factories, farms, etc – are socialised, and production is planned to meet people’s needs, not to make private profit, workers’ jobs will continue to be a hostage to fortune, prey to all the vagaries of capitalist ‘free market’ forces.

In the short term, workers must demand that their factory should be nationalised and kept going. If there really is no demand for the cars being produced, the factory should be transformed to produce something that people do need, and workers retrained to make it.

If we are still faced with the problem of ‘lack of demand’ (ie, workers not having enough money to pay for the things they need), then it is clear that the whole system needs to be transformed, not merely a single factory. What kind of insanity is it when the workers who produce all of society’s superabundant wealth are unable to share in that abundance – are unable even to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads?

Only by fighting for socialism can we secure a future of secure jobs, full employment and advancing living standards.

If you work at JLR or want to help the workers there, get in touch with the Birmingham Worker: