The following is a translation of a statement published by the GKN Factory Collective on 4 June 2024.

Exhaustion, now, is your problem. This morning we begin a hunger strike.

We thought long and hard about this. We believe in collective rather than individual actions, and even in our case, it’s “nothing personal, everything collective”. Whether it’s undertaken by a few or by many, a hunger strike is only another tool in this battle to aid the collective struggle, at the requests of the unions, the RSU [Rappresentanza Sindacale Unitaria, an elected body representing everyone in a workplace] and the Factory Collective. None of us are heroes or martyrs.

We thought about it long and hard. The concept of hunger is a strange one in the so-called “advanced capitalist countries”. Here, poverty hardly ever takes the form of death by starvation. On the contrary, it’s often due to obesity through eating junk food. Here, poverty means lack of care, mental distress, dying of cold in the winter.

With this hunger strike we don’t intend to diminish the state of relative poverty we’ve been reduced to, with two years on redundancy pay and five months with no pay at all.

With this hunger strike, we’re throwing back in your face the game you’ve been playing ever since 9 July 2021 [when Melrose Industries, GKN’s parent company, announced the factory closure].

We knew you were going to do it. But unfortunately power relations intervene between knowing it and managing to stop it.

We’ve had meetings to postpone meetings, talks, the announcement of breakthroughs, resignations, discord sown among the workers, changes of owners, liquidators and names: everything to try and make the struggle lose track. Everything to take up time, to waste time.

So much so that at a certain point you don’t even remember why you were fighting: they turn workers in a collective struggle into single individuals who wonder why they aren’t just looking for another job.

In the last two years, this government has convened three meetings about ex-GKN: on 24 February and 2 March 2023 and 26 March 2024. It looked good, convening a meeting during the layoffs. They should have said that the layoffs were against the laws of their own State.

But they shied away from this and instead left it to the courts to determine. They ignored the court when it ruled several times that the factory is viable and that the salaries should be paid. In practice, the government has body-swerved the strong and legitimate suspicion that this factory has been for a long time the subject of speculative threats.

We have three demands:

  1. Immediate regional legislation to urgently create a public regional consortium to take control of the area and remove it from shady speculation

  2. A qualified commission to pay our wages

  3. The start of a real discussion on reindustrialisation along the lines indicated by the Budget Law 234, connecting among other things with “social buffering” measures

We are afraid of a hunger strike. Because it’s an untried deprivation. And because it embarrasses us to use a word like “hunger” in a world where people really do die of starvation, as, for example, in Palestine.

But then we found the simplest answer: you are the ones who should be sick with fear, and the embarrassment is all yours. Have a good week of embarrassment and we advise you to do what you do best – take up time, waste time.

We are here, our bellies full of rage and dignity.

Thanks to Hilary Horrocks and People & Nature for the translation. The original statement in Italian is here.

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