IAC Ford Info Letter 1/23

Overview Ford colleagues from Spain, France, Venezuela and Germany had positioned themselves in spring 2022 with a resolution against the war in Ukraine, against war and armament policies of their own governments and for active resistance (see Infobrief 1/22).

The working class in several countries, especially Greece and Italy, has temporarily blocked the transport of NATO weapons to Ukraine. With the slogan "Wages up, weapons down" they reject the war and the passing on of the war costs to the masses. This marked May Day 2022 and also mass protests led by the working class in many countries. Russia, Ukraine and NATO have further escalated the war, creating the acute danger of a nuclear world war. The global environmental crisis turned into the beginning of a global environmental catastrophe at the end of 2022. In various countries, there was an incipient closing of ranks between the workers' and environmental movements. The car workers are particularly affected by these developments: Competition between car companies has intensified enormously with the shift to e-mobility and the rivalry of "their" countries for supply chains and markets. In addition, the global economic war has intensified with the overproduction crisis that began in 2018.
Ford has fallen behind in the global race to convert to all-electric cars and is challenging its workforce with massive attacks on jobs. 10.4 billion dollars profit in 2022 is not enough, 11.5 billion were planned. The US government has launched a huge subsidy programme in the US with the "Inflation reduction act". This should be a concrete reason for Ford to concentrate vehicle development for Europe in the USA as well. 65% of the employees of the development centres in Cologne, Dunton (Great Britain) and Lommeln (Belgium) are to be "saved".  Earlier than originally planned, Ford wants to build only e-cars in the EU from 2030, phasing out the Mondeo, Fiesta, Galaxy, S-MAX and Focus models by mid-2025. Valencia, Saarlouis (to be closed in 2025) and Cologne are affected. In Valencia, 1140 jobs are to be destroyed, wages have been cut and working conditions worsened. Ford wants to concentrate on commercial vehicles and the high-priced segment. It cannot be ruled out that Ford will withdraw completely or largely from Europe with its passenger car production in the medium term.
With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in 2022, Ford discontinued its joint venture with the Russian Forma Sollers.Before that, Ford had already largely withdrawn from Russia. Ford got off to a late start in the race for e-mobility and is now trying to catch up aggressively.

But the workers are not putting up with that. In France, Italy, Iran, Germany, Britain, Greece and other countries we see an awakening class consciousness.
In Cologne, after the militant warning strike in the collective bargaining round, the announcement to destroy 2,300 jobs meets with the reaction among a part of the workforce: "Enough! - We won't put up with anything anymore!", "If they get away with it, they'll go on and on." (see "Cologne" below).
This dispute is about all locations in Europe. The necessary response must be a cross-site, Europe-wide strike. A first step would be a Europe-wide day of action by all Ford workers to defend all jobs, for the 30-hour week with full wage compensation and a comprehensive right to strike!
Ford colleagues in France and Venezuela took the lead in strikes and mass struggles against reactionary government policies and imperialist interference.

Ford has restructured the whole group, dividing it into Ford Model E (e-cars), Ford Pro (service/software/dealership) and Ford Blue (combustion division). To get ahead in the competition, Ford is now focusing on premium cars. The new SUV-E model, built in Cologne on a VW platform, is supposed to promise adventure, at a price starting at a "measly" 45,000€.

Ford is also expanding its cooperation with Turkey and the KOC family. The plant in Craiova, Romania, was sold to the FordOtosan joint venture. The Puma is produced there on the Fiesta platform from Cologne, but not for long, then all tools will be sold to press plants in Turkey for FordOtosan. In the near future, the Puma will only be produced fully electrically, developed by KOC Holding. And the colleagues in Cologne are told that the Fiesta allegedly cannot be electrified!
Of course, Ford also needs more rare earths and metals, for which it has bought rights in various countries worldwide or has joined forces with companies.  The consequences are further overexploitation of nature and often inhumane working conditions in the mines.
Ford had already bought 70% of the battery capacity in 2022 in order to produce more than 2 million electric vehicles per year worldwide by 2026. Ford plans to secure forty GWh per year of lithium iron phosphate capacity in the US by 2026. A strategic cooperation agreement has been reached with CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technologie Co. /USA), the world's largest battery manufacturer. The plan is to directly procure battery materials in the USA, Australia, Indonesia and more. Ford signed memoranda of understanding with mining companies Vale Canada Ltd, PT Vale Indonesia and Juayou Cobalt, driving the exploitation of the earth.

Bordeaux (France)


Ford colleagues in Bordeaux in protests against the government's pension plans

Ford had sold the transmission plant to MAGNA in March 2021. At the end of 2022, the workforce learned of the sale of the factory to MUTARES, a German "recovery" fund that plans to liquidate the factory at the end of 2024. Ford remains the only customer. With the end of the Fiesta in Cologne in June 2023, production will be further reduced, with the end of the night shift planned for March.
"A factory at the end of its life, at the end of its breath without any industrial project on the part of Ford", write colleagues from Bordeaux.
But they also proudly report their participation in the large-scale demonstrations against the government's pension plans.


Valencia (Spain)
The production of cars with combustion engines will probably be stopped prematurely. The entire plant in Valencia is threatened with closure by 2030. Ford has rejected subsidies from the EU for the conversion to e-mobility amounting to 106 million euros that had been applied for and already promised. Ford had originally planned two models. The "bidding competition" that Valencia had won against Saarlouis turns out - as expected - to be a fraud against all the workforces. Whether there will even be a European E-platform for another E-model has not even been decided yet. However, the waiving of wage components, extension of working hours and job cuts have already been implemented. Ford continues to leave it open which models will be built and when. The Spanish government is looking for ways to get the unclaimed subsidies back to Ford.
Militant trade unionists like the STM are a thorn in the side of Ford management. It tries to suppress their resistance with threats and bullying. The STM colleagues appealed to colleagues all over the world for solidarity. A total of 60 international expressions of solidarity were received in Valencia. The IAC published this call on its website.

Ford colleagues report: "Ford Motor Venezuela union mobilises against the economic blockade and sanctions imposed by the US-EU imperialist bloc. The working class together with the Bolivarian Federation, Vice Presidency of the Working Class and other anti-imperialist sectors in support of Nicolás Maduro Moros, for the deepening of the Bolivarian process, national liberation and socialism! In the face of imperialism, long live socialism!"


Ford colleagues in Venezuela against US and EU sanctions

Colleagues have sent a statement of solidarity to the warning strike at Ford in Cologne in the 2022 wage dispute:
"Receive fraternal greetings from the militant union of Ford Motor de Venezuela and other workers in the automotive sector who stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Ford Colonia Alemania in their struggle to improve their living conditions, who have courageously demanded wage increases and improvements in their contractual benefits in recent weeks.
The strike is an expression of the organisation of the working class against the offensive of transnational capital. The monopolies have exploited the pandemic and its crisis to try to undercut their workers in order to maintain their maximum profits. 
Our task is to continue to promote the highest level of organisation for the future mobilisations and demands of the working class in the face of intensifying class contradictions.
For this reason, we greatly appreciate all the efforts of the militant workers' organisations in Europe to counter the excesses of the bourgeoisie with street mobilisations.
Let us advance without hesitation in the struggle for a better quality of life and continue to organise the working class against the exploitation by the monopolies, we will win!"

As in Spain, Ford in Venezuela is deliberately targeting the union of Ford colleagues in order to pressure them into "voluntary" dismissal with severance pay, so that the number of trade unionists employed by Ford falls to the point where it loses its rights as a union. The IAC committee "Workers Solidarity Cologne" has sent a protest and solidarity statement toVenezuela.

Cologne (Germany)
On 23 January, the Cologne workforce had been informed that Ford intended to massively push ahead with the destruction of jobs in Germany and Europe, including 3,200 jobs in Cologne alone. At a works meeting in February, the head of Ford-Europe Martin Sander and the works council chair Benjamin Gruschka presented an agreement that foresees the elimination of 2300 jobs in Cologne with severance payments in case of "voluntary" departures. No open dismissals are to take place until 31 December 2032.
Even if this initially reassured some - it is a death in instalments. With the emphasis on "voluntary" departures and increased severance pay, Ford is reacting to the willingness of the workforce to fight. In the 2022 round of collective bargaining, at works meetings, in shop stewards' discussions and in the production halls, the idea of striking independently is doing the rounds more and more. Instead, both Sander and Gruschka stressed the need for calm and that they could not indulge in constant struggle. This is wishful thinking on the part of Gruschka and Sander. The reality of job destruction and the recently growing self-confidence among the workforce will not allow for peace in the long run.
The works council leadership had quickly thrown overboard the slogan "Fight for every job!" and pursued the path of class collaboration, which was a capitulation from the start. This was criticised by militant colleagues in speeches at works meetings. If you put on a show, give a much higher figure as a "worst case" and then present a result that is lower than that, you can't sell that as a success! In the last few years, 6,000 jobs have been cut despite "securing the location". They criticised that no real struggle was waged. The colleagues have to realise that this struggle has to be led independently by the workforce and that we have to fight for an all-round and complete legal right to strike (which does not exist in Germany). The employers' federation, with its attempted attack to restrict it even more, is virtually providing an opportunity to make the already very limited right to strike an issue.
The mood among the workforce ranged from relief, especially among the colleagues in product development, to disillusionment and disappointment about the acceptance of the job destruction. They now have a lot to process. They know the management of the last few years too well and the scepticism, especially towards the head office in the USA, is great. The increased willingness to fight and thus the self-confidence cannot simply be pushed aside. What are the promises of no compulsory redundancies worth? How often has the management broken its word? It must now be further clarified that the only way to consistently stand up for workers' interests is to strike independently.

Saarlouis (Germany)
The factory in Saarlouis is to close with the production of the "Focus" in 2025. 4,600 workers are to lose their jobs, and an additional 1,600 jobs in the supplier industry in the Saarlouis region are threatened.
IG Metall and the works council are hoping for investors who will take over at least some of Ford's employees. Recently, the Chinese manufacturer BYD showed interest, but backed out again. Otherwise, according to the works council chair, there is not a single declaration of intent or commitment.
The right way is to resume the independent strike with motorway blockade and protest on the streets, which started after the announcement of the closure. Since then, a variety of forms of struggle and solidarity have been developed throughout the region and also by colleagues from Cologne. The IAC committee "Workers Solidarity Cologne" visited the workforce in Saarlouis and at a protest day of the IGM, conveyed their solidarity and publicised the automotive workers' conference.

Dear colleagues at Ford
we are looking forward to reports from the International Workers' Struggle Day on 1 May, furthermore we are preparing the next car workers' conference with the delegates' assemblies, we will also report on this and are looking forward to your reports.
Solidarity greetings
Your Ford Car Workers' Coordination


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