As Honda workers and their supporters gear up for a march and rally in Swindon tomorrow (Saturday, March 30) to save the Honda plant, they’ve been inundated by an outpouring of global solidarity.
The IndustriAll European Trade union this week sent a letter of solidarity to Honda Swindon workers on behalf of the 7m manufacturing, mining and energy workers it represents across Europe.
“IndustriAll Europe does not and will never accept that dedicated workers who have grown strategic know-how over the years be thrown on the scrapheap, to the detriment of their future and that of Honda itself,” wrote IndustriAll Europe general secretary Luc Triangle.
“We join Unite the Union in urging Honda to rethink its decision and engage in dialogue on alternatives for ensuring a sustainable future of Honda activities in Europe. IndustriAll Europe will do everything within its powers to support its affiliates in developing a strong, collective response to this plan,” he added.
The IndustriAll global trade union also threw its support behind Honda Swindon workers, with IndustriAll Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches sending solidarity in a video message:
“We will do whatever it takes to stand together with you shoulder to shoulder to make the company reverse this unilateral decision,” he said. “We urge Honda to review this position but in the meantime you can count on IndustriALL and all our members worldwide to stay side by side with you until you win.”
German trade union IG Metall likewise sent its solidarity, with IG Metall executive committee member Wolfgang Lemb writing on behalf of its 2.2m members that the union “would like to express its support for [Unite’s] fight to safeguard the Honda plant in Swindon”.
“The Honda employees have made an excellent job over the years, are loyal and are highly skilled,” Lemb wrote. “The supply chain for the Honda plant is well-integrated. These are all good reasons to maintain the plant.”
Trade unionists from across the world took to the Save Honda Swindon Facebook page to send messages of support.
“On behalf of the unionised workers in the transport sector here in New Zealand, I send a message of solidarity to our UK brothers and sisters,” wrote Myles Carter of the Rail & Maritime Transport Union. “Even across the waves we are all united in fighting the good fight. Stand tall.”
Rashid Patch sent “solidarity from Oakland, California” while Kelly Nugent of the American trade union IAMAW said, “know that I’m in accord with you in spirit, if not my presence. Solidarity forever”.
Honda workers, thousands of whom face an uncertain future after the Japanese carmaker announced in February it would be closing its Swindon plant in 2021, were given further international support at a demo outside Parliament in March.
Honda workers from Ghent, Belgium travelled to London to express their solidarity.
“What Honda is doing is inhumane,” Belgian Honda worker Veronique Debaere told UNITElive at the demo. “So many workers will lose their jobs not just here in the UK but in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Their ethos is ‘first man, then machine’ – what they’re doing is a complete contradiction. I’m here in solidarity for Swindon colleagues.”
Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke hailed the outpouring of support worldwide for Honda workers and explained how Unite was strategically working with its international trade union partners to the save the Honda Swindon plant.
“We have been in regular contact with IndustriALL, both the global and European trade union, as well as with trade unions in America and Mexico through Workers Uniting,” he said. “Honda is a global company, with a presence in countries around the world, and so it is essential that we at Unite take our fight to save Honda Swindon on the global stage. Corporate greed knows no borders and neither should our fight against it.”
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner added, “The many messages of solidarity from our trade union brothers and sisters across the world should give our cause hope.
“Unite has made the case both here and globally that the future of the Honda Swindon plant is viable, and the world is with us,” he said. “We urge everyone who can to join us tomorrow at the march and rally so that both Honda bosses and the UK government hear our message loud and clear. This is a world class plant with a loyal, dedicated workforce that have earned and deserve a secure future.”
On the eve of tomorrow’s (March 30) march and rally, a petition urging Honda to rethink its decision to close the plant has amassed more than 16,000 signatures.