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Tell Tale: Riots, violence and car factories

3 years ago

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Ben Oliver | Journalist


7 June 2021

Espionage, riots, corruption, beatings and murder. Not subjects you expect to encounter on Ti, but all part of the sometimes scarcely believable secret history of the car factory. Modern plants are often dull places making exciting products, but in the past it was generally the other way around: the plants making the dullest cars seemed to suffer the most strife. Firebrand trade union leaders at British car plants dominated the nightly news in the 1970s, but perhaps less well-known is the borderline-warfare that has erupted around car factories elsewhere.

Why all the trouble? Because all human life can be found in a car factory. The biggest employ tens of thousands of people directly, and hundreds of thousands more across their regions. Entire cities like Togliatti in Russia and Toyota City in Japan have grown up around car factories. Some employees spend every working day at those plants for their entire working lives. Billions of pounds of goods go in each year, and shiny, expensive, covetable, nickable cars come out the other side. It’s no surprise that car factories have been prone to the same politicking, corruption and conflict as society as a whole.

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