Thousands demonstrated on Saturday 23 July to save jobs at the Bombardier train manufacturing plant in Derby.
The demonstration was extremely well supported locally, and the fact that thousands were mobilised at relatively short notice for a demonstration in a location that doesn’t host many mass demos is an encouraging indication of the potential for a real campaign to save jobs at the plant.
Some senior union officials from the platform played up the “British jobs” aspect, and spoke of “working with” Bombardier management (the company’s UK chairman, Colin Walton, appeared on the demonstration platform). Socialists involved in the campaign will need to make sure it is fought on the class basis of workers against bosses, not on the basis of unity between British workers and British bosses to take jobs away from railworkers in Germany. The rail union RMT, which represents many workers at Bombardier, has released a statement on the issue that makes it clear it will be fighting the battle on the basis of class, not nationality. Other unions should follow its lead.
AWL members who attended the demonstration report that, while there was clear anger about the potential loss of jobs, there was also a feeling of powerlessness and a hope that demonstrations by themselves might make the government listen or change its mind.
Socialists can give a different kind of hope; a hope that a labour-movement campaign of action, including industrial action by Bombardier workers, can force the government to act.