20,000 workers marched to protest job losses at a Ford plant in Genk, Belgium, on Sunday 11 November.
4,300 workers face losing their jobs, and workers at the plant had previously responded to the announcement by blockading the factory gates. Sunday’s demonstration saw the campaign turn out to the wider community, as well as mobilising Ford workers from plants in Germany. A delegation from Belgium had visited Ford’s European headquarters in Cologne, where they held a demonstration of around 100 workers.
Although the demands of the union leaderships behind Sunday’s demonstration are timid, a mass demonstration at least provides a focus for organised, visible dissent and opposition. In Britain, where Ford plants in Southampton and Dagenham are threatened with closure, something similar is needed, and fast.
As well as demonstrations, militant stewards in the plants should hold workplace meetings to galvanise and convince less confident workers about the tactics necessary to win — strikes, go-slows, and occupations. Unite and GMB should provide strike pay for their members to support them in taking sustained action in the run-up to Christmas.
Unions should also conduct a political campaign to demand that the factories are taken into public ownership — and repurposed if necessary, and workers retrained — if Ford cannot be forced to keep them open.