Friday, July 07, 2006

Peugeot, Amicus and the TGWU: how not to fight a car plant closure

The KLF famously burned £1m in the name of art. Now Amicus and TGWU look set to repeat the stunt, in the name of heaven knows what.

This blog has previously been critical of the two unions for limiting their campaign against the closure of Peugeot’s plant in Ryton to shelling out that huge sum of members' subscriptions on an advertising campaign calling for a consumer boycott. That money looks like going straight on the media owners' bottom line.

Last month I predicted:

‘Few will take any notice, and the ‘campaign’ will quietly fold inside a few months, having achieved nothing. Nobody will even make the democratic socialist case for common ownership under workers’ control.’

So was I right or was I right? Here’s the Independent today. You don’t really need to read much beyond the headline to get the message:

'Peugeot sales surge as union boycott flops By Michael Harrison, Business Editor Published: 07 July 2006

‘A £1m trade union campaign to persuade motorists not to buy Peugeot cars in protest at the closure of its Ryton plant in Coventry appears to have flopped after the French car maker revealed yesterday that its UK sales surged last month.

‘The boycott, launched with a fanfare at the start of June with full-page newspaper adverts, urges the public to "think of England" if they intend buying a new car this summer. The Amicus union began the campaign after Peugeot bosses refused to reconsider their decision to close Ryton next year with the loss of 2,300 jobs.

‘However, the latest figures show sales of Peugeot models rose 17 per cent last month to 12,675, buoyed by the launch of the new 207 model, despite a 4 per cent decline in the overall new car market.’

Ironically, it’s even possible that the company benefited from the additional ad spend. Whatever the case, the chance of organising a fightback has been well and truly dissipated:

‘Peugeot said it has received 1,500 applications for the 1,000 redundancies that will result from the ending of the second shift as from this week.’

There are a plenty of better things that could have been done with a million quid, no?

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