The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 8th December 1978

Millions Facing Industrial Axe

Two and a half million car workers' jobs could vanish in the next ten years - because of Britain's membership of the Common Market and the incompetence of Britain's car bosses.

The whole car industry could be "virtually eliminated" in the 1980s, forecasts a Cambridge University economic group and the bosses' organisation, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders,agrees.

"It could happen", said a spokesman for the Society, when the New Worker put the forecast to him.

Half a million workers are employed directly by car firms on production and a further two million work for firms completely dependent on the motor industry.

Car production will top out at 800,000 this year, forecasts the Society. It will fall by 5% to 760,000 next year and in 1980. it will fall again, to 750,000.


The Society says it cannot look further into its crystal ball. It is not so long ago, writes a New Worker reporter, that George Harriman, then chairman of the British Motor Corporation, before it "expanded" into British Leyland, told me his company would make a million cars in the next year.

It never happened.

Soon afterwards I interviewed the president of France's Renault Cars who forecast that Britain's car industry would have to face up to the prospect of imports reaching over 20% of total registrations here.

British: manufacturers laughed at the prophecy - but it happened.

By 1980 more than half the cars registered in Britain will be foreign made, with the vast majority of those coming from Common Market countries.

The SMMT claims it will stay below 50%, at 49%, but that is belied by their own fore- cast of 1,550,000 registrations that year, 800,000 more than their predicted home production.

One authoritative trade union leader who agrees with the gloomy forecasts is John Rigby, former convenor at the Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant.

"It is all because of our membership of the Common Market," he told the New Worker.

"Foreign owners of firms like Fords, Vauxhall and Chrysler are concentrating production abroad.

"After June next year we, in Vauxhall's, will not produce one British car.

We still produce Vivas, but only eight an hour, compared with 35 an hour on a two shift system, eight times as many, not so long ago.


"Now we 'produce' Chevettes, but they are sent over in boxes from Germany, which is working flat out, to be assembled here like Meccano.

"It is the same situation at Fords. Even British Leyland is bringing cars in from Belgium".

The final blow, he forecast, would be delivered by America.

The USA had taken up the idea of the transverse engine, pioneered but not properly pushed, by British Leyland, to meet fuel economy and anti- pollution requirements.

Those cars could swamp the market here.

The white collar engineering union, TASS, warned this week that Britain must spend far more on car design and tooling if it was to stay in the business.

Even firms like Fords, making huge profits here, are cutting down on essential investment for the future.


Other Common Market news this week is that Britain is expected to pay through the nose even more for the privilege of membership - having its industries destroyed and its food prices doubled or trebled.

Staying out of the new European money 'snake' which economists have warned could see Britain becoming just an economic colony of West Germany, will only be tolerated if we agree to an extra £650,000,000 a year on our membership bill.

That bill is already running- at £600,000,000 a year and is , due to rise, without this extra burden, to £1,000,000,000 a year.

So for the privilege of being in the Market and having jobs destroyed and shopping bills inflated, Britishers are expected to pay out an average of £1 a week for every man, woman and child.