JLR job cuts, the car industry, robots and future prospects for jobs

jlr job losses_brexit

Job cuts ruin lives

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 186,000 workers are directly engaged in manufacturing jobs in the British car industry, with 856,000 workers to be found in the wider industry, from sales executives to garage mechanics. It’s an industry worth a whopping £82bn (turnover), but the global crisis of overproduction means that there are many more cars sitting on forecourts than can be sold, and fewer workers with the cash to buy them.

Automation

In a research paper entitled the ‘Digitalisation of the automotive industry’ in 2016, KPMG and the SMMT outlined that “By fully embracing digitalisation, the automotive sector stands to gain £6.9bn every year by 2035. The cumulative total benefit to the economy could be £74bn by 2035. This is a significant prize…”

This future world has a sensor on every box to inform another sensor (hundreds of miles away) that it needs to start 3D printing a few more plastic plugs. Other sensors will note when the new plugs are ready and a photo electric sensor somewhere in Slovakia will then despatch a robot-controlled Google-driven lorry to bring those parts ‘just in time’. Sensors on robots, and no doubt sensors on people, will be able to ensure that profits are maximised and with all these sensors organising production and many robots actually undertaking the production process itself, there won’t be much room left for working men and women. With more workers forced out of work, there will be less money coming in to buy the things the sensors are churning out. The prisons will be bursting and, in the words of Lord Byron, workers will be

nefariously guilty of lawfully begetting children whom, thanks to the times, they are unable to maintain’.”

`Time to face it, capitalism must go

The drive for profit is leading to the wholesale impoverishment of the human race. In its drive for maximum profits, mankind is overproducing all the things it does not need. Rather than plan production in a rational way so as to ensure a constantly rising standard of material and cultural existence, the chaos of private production threatens the survival of our species and the planet. The struggle against capitalism is a struggle between the working classes and the capitalist class. This struggle has now raged for more than two hundred years.

In the 18th century British workers were faced with a similar threat from technology. Our recent ancestors were thrown out of work, out of factories and mills with the introduction of new technology and their response was to attack this technology, to smash it up and destroy it. These workers were known as Luddites and they led a fierce and heroic battle with the police, army, manufacturers and government. In Nottinghamshire weavers who made frames for the manufacture of trousers (stockings) faced death for struggling to protect their livelihoods. The struggle led the great poet Byron to write,

Men are more easily made than machinery –

Stockings fetch better prices than lives –

Gibbets on Sherwood will heighten the scenery,

Showing how Commerce, how Liberty thrives!

 

For all the heroism of our ancestors, they were ultimately unsuccessful in that struggle. History teaches us that to protect jobs and for dignity of labour we must direct our blows towards the capitalist class and not just its property. This class of parasites do not work but collect through dividends, shares and taxes the wealth produced by the working class.

Our working class should draw inspiration from the workers of France who have so militantly expressed their outrage these last few months with the protests of the yellow vests. Occupations, strikes, blockades, disruption of the capitalist system of profit making is the only way to extract concessions from the ruling class. In tandem with this rebellion must be the building up of the forces of the communists, the advanced section of the workers which understands that it is necessary to turn the economic crisis into an all-out political rebellion. The aim of the communists must be the armed insurrection of the working people, for the seizure of state power. Britain today is sleepy and the British working class is idle and silent in the face of the abuses it is suffering; but if Donald Trump can appreciate that the fierce competition between the capitalists themselves creates the conditions for the national security of the US imperialists to be threatened, then we can take some consolation from their discomfort.

Its time to fight for a different future, get in touch with us to lend your support:

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: