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Report on Developments in the International Auto Industry

(We are printing two separate excerpts from an international newsletter of workers in the General Motors and Groupe PSA corporations.  The latter is a French multinational incorporating Peugeot, Citroen, and DS Automobiles; after its 2016-7 acquisition of Opel and Vauxhall Motors from GM, it became Europe’s second largest auto manufacturer. The first excerpt begins with a discussion on the transition from the petrol-driven internal combustion engine to the new technology of electrical motors.)

The transition to electromobility intensifies the international struggle of annihilation of the auto companies!

In the auto industry, a new kind of international structural crisis is apparently impending on the basis of the transition of propulsion technology to electromotors. We have demanded ending the use of combustion motors for a long time. However, our demands go far beyond a mere transition in propulsion, and we fight against the structural crisis being carried out on the backs of the workers!

The far less complicated production of electromotors in comparison to combustion engines will be calling millions of jobs in the auto industry into question worldwide. We industrial workers must take the lead in the struggle to save the environment from the greed for profits and put up the corresponding demands which promote the unity with the struggle for jobs and working conditions. Not only VW, but practically all auto companies have systematically poisoned and deceived people with the help of the respective governments. The managers responsible are criminal and should be punished.

In order to shift the burdens of the crisis GM, PSA and other companies are planning massive attacks against the company workforces. GM is withdrawing from the markets in Europe, India and South Africa and selling some of its plants. In 2017 GM intends to close down the plants Valencia in Venezuela, Oshawa in Canada, Halol in India and Elizabeth in Australia, possibly also the company in Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

In addition, GM wants to cut 350 jobs in the Rosario plant in Argentina and even more than 1000 jobs in the plant Sao José dos Campos in Brazil. This has led respectively to protest actions. After 2700 GM workers in Venezuela were dismissed per e-mail, they occupied the factory. Struggles took place in other plants, too. In July 2016, the trade union SintraGMCol protested against the dismissal of 60 workers, 30 of whom were protected against dismissal because of occupational diseases.

Unique is the vigil of the dismissed workers from GM Bogota in Colombia, who have been conducting a tent camp in front of the US embassy with their trade union ASOTRECOL for more than 2100 days. At the end of May 2017, the US embassy denied the president of ASOTRECOL, Jorge Parra, entrance into the USA for a solidarity tour. We passed a solidarity resolution in opposition which states, “Support the right of Jorge Parra, President of the injured Colombian GM workers’ association (ASOTRECOL), to travel to the USA to tell their story, by demanding the immediate reinstatement of his visa.” The international Coordination Group of the Automotive Workers Coordination and many of the participating forces of our coordination sent solidarity declarations to the struggling workforces and have made the struggles known worldwide.

In the USA in January 2017 the night shift in the plants Lansing Grand River and Lordstown (Ohio) were abolished. In addition, the abolishing of a shift in the plant Detroit Hamtramck, in Lansing Delta and in the transmission plant Warren Transmission were announced. In the CAMI-plant in Ingersoll, Ontario 625 jobs are to be transferred to Mexico. This amounts to the destruction of more than 5300 jobs in these six factories in this auto region.

Many of this region's workers had voted for Donald Trump last year because he had promised more jobs with his social-chauvinist demagogy, at the cost of workers in Mexico and other countries. Trump is actually a dangerous enemy of the workers, of the women and of the environment, and he is a warmonger. He represents the most reactionary spheres of finance capital. It is no coincidence that GM chief Mary Barra has become one of Trump's consultants. Donald Trump's coming into office signalizes a new quality in the crisis-proneness of the ruling system and the worldwide shift to the right of the governments. This course endangers world peace and threatens to accelerate the transition to a global environmental catastrophe.

Resistance against this reactionary and dangerous policy of Trump was great from the very beginning. We industrial workers have to take the lead in this international resistance.
……………………………
Further reading: There are a number of articles on the transition from internal combustion to electromobility that can be accessed online. Readers may find The emergence of electromobility: Comparing technological pathways in France, Germany, China and India  of interest.  It can be accessed here: https://academic.oup.com/spp/article/43/4/464/2514627/The-emergence-of-electromobility-Comparing
 

 

Report on Developments in the International Auto Industry
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