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Year 2000 No. 154, September 19, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

Atmel to Buy Siemens Micro chip Plant:

"Inward investment" Cannot Be the Basis for Creating a Modern Economy

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Atmel to Buy Siemens Micro chip Plant:
"Inward investment" Cannot Be the Basis for Creating a Modern Economy

Government Taskforce Does Not Address People’s Legitimate Grievances

National Demonstration - Asylum Rights Are Human Rights

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Atmel to Buy Siemens Micro chip Plant:

"Inward investment" Cannot Be the Basis for Creating a Modern Economy

The US electronics monopoly Atmel announced yesterday that it is to buy the mothballed Siemens electronics plant in the North East. The plant was closed in 1998 with a loss of 1,100 jobs after only being in production for just over a year. The company is planning to invest £700 million and is claiming that if all goes to plan the plant could reopen by next year creating 500 jobs in the first year and at least 500 a year after that. According to reports it is believed that this is the third company that has been interested in buying the plant with AMD and INTEL being named as the monopolies that failed to agree on a deal with Siemens. The new deal is expected to include a supply arrangement with Siemens. Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers, the MP for North Tyneside, has closely followed the negotiations between Atmel and Siemens and the government has agreed a £28 million grant to Atmel. Sir Ken Jackson, General Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union and other union leaders have been reported as welcoming the news enthusiastically.

When the Siemens plant was opened by the Queen it was hailed as the "dawn of the new microchip industry" and a "boost" to the economy of the North East, but it closed just over one year later. This inward investment of over £1 billion, with huge grants taken from the taxes of the people, was far from being a "boost" to the North East. Monopolies such as Siemens saw RAM chips which need relatively little research and development as an area where maximum profits could be made. This action of Siemens and other monopolies very quickly led to overproduction in the global market and the plant closed with the loss of jobs whilst the monopoly left with its profits intact.

Atmel wants to use the North-East plant to produce flash memory chips, used extensively in mobile phones and digital cameras and they plan to steal a march on their competitors because they would not have to build a new specialised plant. Conscious that people are concerned that history will repeat itself the company has issued statements that its investment is intended to be "long term". The Minister, Stephen Byers, has also tried to justify the government's £28 million handout by claiming that the company will not pull out like Siemens. But "Inward investment" is not to provide jobs, or to gear production to develop a national economy that meets the needs of the people. On the contrary such global monopolies invest in the North East of England as one area which provides favourable conditions to make such profits. It is a narrow base for the economy created by the capitalist drive for maximum profit and shows how capitalism is incapable of uninterrupted extended reproduction. Under these conditions all the big political parties including the present government gear their policies towards putting the whole of the assets of the country, both human and material, in the service of the monopolies. Once again New Labour is actively encouraging such inward investment even though it leads to workers being thrown out of jobs on a massive scale.

For the working class of the North East as with workers everywhere they must reject the government's claim that "inward investment" and getting behind the employer in the global market can be the basis for creating a modern economy and that it holds the key to solving the problem of creating jobs and economic prosperity in the North East or any other part of Britain. The issue is for the working class taking up its own independent programme for society. A modern economy is one which is capable of uninterupted extended reproduction, where more is put into the economy than is taken out and the people's well being is put at the centre of the economy and not the interests of the monopolies.

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Government Taskforce Does Not Address People’s Legitimate Grievances

The government taskforce, established to prevent a repeat of last week’s protest against high fuel charges, held its first meeting yesterday, Monday 18th September.

The taskforce, headed by Home Secretary, Jack Straw, includes government ministers, senior police officers and representatives of the oil companies. It has been established to consider whether oil should be treated as an essential service, which would mean that following legislation the oil monopolies would have a legal obligation to ensure the delivery of fuel supplies. It was also reported that the Home Secretary was trying to establish what was referred to as a ‘memorandum of understanding’ setting out the obligations of the oil monopolies and the Government in the event of protests over fuel prices in the future.

The government is already mounting a massive propaganda campaign, supported by some trade union leaders, to obscure the main issues raised by the wide-scale protests last week over the high cost of fuel. Accusations are being made concerning the motives of some protestors and the role of the oil monopolies themselves, while at the same time the government is taking measures to make sure that it is in a stronger legal position to suppress future protests and continue ignore people’s legitimate grievances.

What was so evident during last week’s protests was that they struck a cord with the sentiment of the majority of people because they were striking at the marginalisation of the people from decision making. The protests raised the question of who should make decisions regarding such economic issues that are of vital importance to the whole country, and in whose interests such decisions should be made. They raised the question of how the masses of the people are to exercise control over their lives, as well as over the nature and direction of the economy and how the people can bring about new arrangements so that the government truly embodies the popular will.

The fact is that the government’s taskforce addresses none of these questions. It is proposing to take measures to maintain and strengthen the marginalisation of the people from decision making, while arrogantly refusing to address their legitimate concerns.

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National Demonstration - Asylum Rights Are Human Rights

The North East Campaign for Asylum Rights has informed WDIE that it is to host a National Demonstration in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Saturday, September 30, 2000. The demonstration will assemble on Newcastle Quayside at 11a.m. The demonstration will put forward the following demands

· End Forced Dispersal!!

· Provide Safe Accomodation!!

· Abolish Iniquitous Vouchers!!

· Right to Work!!

· Free Jailed Asylum Seekers!!

· Fight Press Hysteria!!

For Further Information contact:

NECFAR PO Box 787, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE99 1DJ

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