Ellesmere Port: Success or Sacrifice?

18 May 2012 The IER notes that the Ellesmere Port deal came at a cost.

18 May 2012| News

18 May 2012

The IER notes that the Ellesmere Port deal came at a cost.

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The Institute of Employment Rights (IER) welcomes the news that thousands of jobs have been saved and hundreds more are set to be created at General Motors’ Ellesmere Port plant. However, the think tank for the labour movement is warning that the sacrifices that had to be made to keep the site open are a bad omen for the broader employment rights landscape.

In order to prevent GM – a multinational that reported record annual profits last year – from moving the Vauxhall plant to Germany, employees already squeezed by rising living costs have been forced to reduce their expectations for pay and working conditions. This is what the government calls ‘being flexible’. The coalition, it seems, thinks it is perfectly fair to put the onus on vulnerable and desperate workers to improve Britain’s competitiveness on the global market in a regressive race to the bottom.

Carolyn Jones, Director of the IER, said:

“Of course the preservation and creation of so many jobs is worth celebrating, but let’s not be blind to the wider implications of this deal. Desperate workers were backed into a corner by a massive multinational. The fact so many employees voted for the deal is hardly surprising when you consider the alternative was unemployment at a time when there are very few jobs to be had. Yet the government is openly celebrating the so-called “flexibility” of the staff and unions involved, and putting pressure on others, such as the public sector, to give up their hard-earned rights too.”

“The Ellesmere Port arrangement was not an unmitigated success for UK workers, and the fact the government is treating it as such is a sign that it is once again putting the wants of the rich ahead of the needs of the poor.”

“No doubt German workers will now face increasing pressures from their government and employers to lower their labour costs and become more “flexible”. And so the race to the bottom continues. UK workers already work more hours, on less pay and with fewer rights than most workers throughout Europe. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the UK should be striving to improve the lives of its population, not setting the pace in a race to the bottom with other nations at the beck and call of the world’s largest companies.”

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CONTACT: Carolyn Jones, 0151 207 5265, cad@ier.org.uk

About the IER

The Institute of Employment Rights was established in February 1989 as an independent organisation to act as a focal point for the spread of new ideas in the field of labour law. In 1994 the Institute became a registered charity.

Our aim is to provide a wide variety of high quality publications which we hope will stimulate debate and analysis about employment law policies and legal developments in industrial relations.

The results of the work of the Institute are published in booklets available for sale or through annual subscription. The Institute also provides short articles (free of legal jargon) for trade union journals and other popular publications. We organise conferences and seminars on topics of particular importance and hold occasional lectures.