Sunday, 23 November 2008

Save Hoover's Factory in Merthyr - Campaign Diary

An online campaign against the closure of Hoover attracted almost 2000 supporters over 3 days, this is now turning into a real life fightback to defend our communities. Jonny Jones, South Wales Chartists - Supporters of the People Before Profit Charter, who set up the campaign writes from Merthyr:

04/12/08 Tony Benn Statement / Government rejects petition!

Hi everyone. Here is a statement from Tony Benn to all of us. Tony Benn is the best known figure on the Labour left who retired from Parliament to "spend more time involved in politics." Since then he has campaigned tirelessly against the war as President of the Stop the War Coalition and is a strong supporter of the People Before Profit Charter.

"The economic crisis is having a devastating effect on workers all across Britain. In South Wales, the impact is being felt particularly sharply. From Budelpack to Bosch, Maesteg to Merthyr, thousands of jobs are being wiped out by the recession. Unemployment in Wales is rising four times faster the national average.

The announcement of an end to manufacturing at the Hoover factory in Merthyr Tydfil is symbolic of how grave this crisis is. Hoover has been in Merthyr for 60 years, and, in that time, tens of thousands of workers and their families have relied on the factory for their livelihoods. To announce the job cuts just before Christmas is an appalling insult to the workers and people of Merthyr.

It has always been the case that, in times of crisis, big business seeks to safeguard its profits by making ordinary people pay the price. That is why it is so important for workers, trade unionists, socialists and activists to come together and fight to safeguard their common interests.

Democracy has always relied upon mass movements to win and defend our rights. The Chartists, who struggled to win the vote, faced down repression courageously in places like Newport in South Wales and inspired millions across the country. The mass anti-war movement was able to win the vast majority of the British people to opposing the immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meetings like those organised by the supporters of the People Before Profit Charter in Merthyr and Cardiff can be an important first step in building a new movement, one that seeks to unite all those who face unemployment and uncertainty in struggle for social justice and the right to work. I wish them and all who support them the very best in their campaign."

Also, Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street Website has refused to host a petition under the title 'Stop the Jobs Massacre in South Wales' on the basis that it includes "Language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative" ... what a cheek!

We've just had another 370 jobs cut in tax offices around Wales, 450 jobs at an aluminium factory outside Newport. Brown might prefer to dress these job cuts up as something other than a massacre but for the thousands who face redundancy, this ain't no Christmas Party!It's clear that this is a problem that will run and run, please do your best to keep pushing for people to attend these important meetings next week.

02/12/08 - Meetings set-up for next week and Tony Benn wishes us success!

Big things happening over the next two weeks! I spoke to Tony Benn last night about the campaign to stop the job cuts at Hoover. Tony has been a central figure in British politics for decades and has a record of standing up for working people. He said that I should communicate to everyone his best wishes for success in our campaign!

Two meetings have been organised to bring together all those who want to campaign against the closure of Hoover and all the other places being affected by mass redundancies.

In Merthyr, the meeting will be on Wednesday 10th December at 7.30pm in the Glebeland Club (upstairs from the Belle Vue Pub) on Glebeland Street in the town centre. We're currently working on getting guests arranged but have already heard from the convenor at Hoover that he and some of the shop stewards will be coming along!

There will be another meeting in Cardiff on Thursday 11th December at 7.30pm in the Royal Hotel, St Mary's Street in the city centre. Any suggestions as to what we could be doing or offers of help to publicise the meeting would be greatly appreciated! Please do your best to get along and bring others.We're trying to contact as many people who have lost their jobs or whose jobs are under threat as possible.

If you know people who worked at Ferrari's Bakers before the closure last week, or who works / worked at Budelpack, Bosch, Serious Food Co. etc then please get in touch:

26/11/08 - 2000 members! But we need to keep building...

Brilliant to see we're now at over 2000 members in little over a week. It's great to see that people are still pushing the group and trying to get the campaign known.

If we needed any more evidence of how important it is to fight back against the cuts, it came today when both Woolworths and MFI went into administration threatening thousands of jobs. In Maesteg, the old Revlon factory has annouced it is closing with the loss of 400 jobs. In Llantrisant, another 200 jobs are going at the Serious Food Co, that's on top of the 250 cut from Bosch just last week.

This is just the beginning of recession and the onslaught on jobs we face in the coming years. That's why I've been contacting people to try to get a meeting on job cuts set-up in Merthyr as soon as possible. I've contacted Labour, Plaid and the Unite union as well as representatives from the PCS union.

Hopefully we'll be able to announce more details in the days to come but in the meanwhile keep letting people know about the campaign and stay in touch with your ideas about what we can be doing. Your response so far has been brilliant - even the Merthyr Tydfil FC Supporters Club are backing us and are taking a petition to the next match! If you're a member of an organisation or union that could back the campaign, get in touch.

25/11/08: Campaign Gets a Brilliant Response in Merthyr!

On Saturday a few of us set up a stall in the centre of Merthyr for a couple of hours doing a petition calling for intervention to save jobs at Hoover.

We couldn't believe the response. Hundreds of people signed, some people wanting to list their entire family! We met current workers from the factory who are incredibly angry. We met many workers who've been there over the years, including one who had worked there when it first opened.

It's blindingly obvious from that response and from the response to the facebook group that people in Merthyr want to resist these cuts and closures. It's not just Hoover either. Thirty jobs are to go at Sekisui and the tax office is going to be closed with the loss of around fifty jobs. If Hoover's workers go down without a fight it will be that much easier for the next company to lay people off.

That's why over the next few days we want to try to organise a public meeting in Merthyr to defend jobs. Please get in touch if you have contacts with people inside or outside the factory who would be able to advertise a meeting or if you have suggestions as to who might be able to speak. It's important to have representatives from the parties and the unions, but even more important is that local people and workers have a place where they can come together, discuss the situation and come up with a plan to fight back!

21/11/08: Over 1000 members in three days!

When I set this group up, I didn't imagine it's get so big so fast, and I certainly didn't expect so much international support from all around the world. Thanks to everyone who's joined and please carry on inviting more of your friends.

We're often told how much the people of Merthyr owe to Hoover for providing so many with a living. The truth is, Hoover owes Merthyr. Hoover has been happy to take advantage of low wages in the Valleys to make profits over the decades. Now it wants to shut up shop and exploit even lower wages overseas. With the recession growing, Hoover thinks it can get away with cutting and running without a fight back.

There's more to this than just Hoover, though. Gordon Brown has spent over £500 BILLION on loans and bailouts to the banks this year. He tells us this was essential to support the economy. It doesn't seem to be working. The last three month rise in unemployment figures was over 140,000 – almost 30,000 of these job cuts were in Wales!

At the same time, New Labour is attempting to push thousands of ill people and single parents back into work. In Merthyr, where one-in-five is on long term sickness, these changes coming on top of massive job cuts will be disastrous. With the number of people looking for jobs exploding just as jobs are disappearing it will mean misery for many people.

Welsh Assembly AM Huw Lewis has rightly called for a serious regeneration program to help those affected by the job cuts. Leanne Wood AM has called for a workers' bailout to go alongside the one the banks got.

None of these things will be handed over to us. A strong campaign, rooted in communities like Merthyr, will be essential to winning the change we need. Meetings, protests, marches, strikes, occupations – all can play a part in building confidence and winning support. Please get in touch if you want to get involved:


Anonymous said...

i think it,s crap with hoover being one of the biggest suppliers in the industry what on earth is happening to our country. The government complain that there are to many unemployed yet with all the debt the government etc have caused by overlending this will certainly contribute to the employment status. We have heard that hoover,s is not losing infact their figures show otherwise.The government need to look at the chaos they have caused instead of britain having to pay for their mistake.

plaidcasnewydd said...

If you know anyone coming from Newport with room in the car who has room for two then I'd like to attend this. As I don't drive getting to Merthyr on our under-invested public transport system will be difficult.