Something is happening in the Ford workforce

1 February 2024: Correspondence: Ford has fallen further behind in the battle for destruction against the backdrop of the switch to fully electric vehicles and the international economic and financial crisis, and wants to increase its profitability by destroying capital in order to survive. At the same time, competition between the imperialist countries is having an impact: Ford is shifting investments - including those already planned - to the USA in response to the US government's "Inflation Reduction Act", which promotes investments in the USA and places a financial burden on those of US companies outside the USA.

In 2023, the closure or drastic reduction of the development center in Cologne was announced. In the meantime, the spin-off as a GmbH and CoKG has been decided and the workforce has been put under massive pressure to leave with severance pay. So far, however, this has not been accepted to the extent that Ford had hoped.

Only a short time after the opening show of the "Electrification Center" with Chancellor Scholz as a guest, the start of production of the electric "Explorer" was postponed from the beginning of 2024 to mid-2024. This decision raised doubts among the workforce that the Explorer would still be built in Cologne at all. The majority of the Craiova (Romania) site was sold to the Turkish group Otosan. Ford still has a minority shareholding of 49% there. In Valencia, Ford has also postponed the start of production of e-cars; Spanish state funds that had already been approved were not called up. A sale to Otosan is also on the table - as yet unconfirmed. It is becoming apparent that Ford is withdrawing from passenger car production in Europe. The fact that Ford is still starting production of the E-Explorer at all is due to the fact that Ford wants to continue selling its combustion cars in Europe. To do this, however, a certain number of fully electric vehicles must be sold in the UK, for example, in order to avoid high fines.

The strike by automobile workers in the USA has aroused great sympathy among the Ford workforce. The Cologne IAC committee had initiated and forwarded a declaration of solidarity from Ford colleagues (see also IAC website). Above all, however, a discussion about the right to strike was initiated in the IGM's body of representatives and among colleagues: If workers in the USA have managed to strike against planned job losses, why don't we do the same!!!

On October 21, 2023, at the invitation of the IAC Committee Cologne, an event was held to mark 50 years of the big Ford strike with a broad response from the company and the public and around 100 participants, including numerous Ford colleagues, some from the works council and store stewards' committee and contemporary witnesses from back then. One of them said: "I was dismissed because of my role in the 1973 strike, but I am proud to have been part of it". The focus was on what can be learned from the 1973 strike for the situation today.

This whole development led to an increasing discussion about an independent strike against job destruction and the question of the complete and universal legal right to strike. In the colleagues' newspaper "Scheinwerfer", colleagues proposed a series of demands for an independent strike. These demands include a position in favor of electrically powered cars. This stands against the propaganda that the switch to electric cars would lead to job losses and that it would therefore be better to continue producing the Fiesta with a combustion engine: in the last 10 years that the Fiesta has been produced, Ford has already lost almost 10,000 jobs in Cologne.

The works council called for a protest meeting on the factory premises due to the announcement of the postponement of the start of production at the end of November 2023. There were clear signals from the workforce with a banner "We are ready for strike action", which was signed by 160 colleagues. Inspired by the IAC contacts, the militant trade union STN Intersindical in Valencia carried out an action on the same day. The demands discussed by the workforce in Cologne were passed on to Valencia. There is growing interest in the 30-hour week with full wage compensation as a Group agreement. One of the reasons for this is that Ford has for some time been allowing its colleagues in production to stay at home for one week a month on a paid basis due to a lack of work and in order to dampen any contradictions. This shows that Ford can afford a reduction in working hours with full wage compensation.

An event on refugee policy organized by the IGM's representative body at Ford was of great importance in countering the refugee hatred and developing internationalist thinking. A representative of the "Freundeskreis Flüchtlingssolidarität" (Group of friends in solidarity with the refugees) received much applause and overwhelming approval.

On the occasion of the Environmental Campaign Day on December 9, 2023, the IAC Committee Cologne together with the environmental union made an outreach at a gate at Ford. There were many deeper conversations. 30 colleagues signed a banner with the slogan "Fight for jobs and the environment - for a future worth living".

The workforce in Saarlouis drew the conclusion from the bursting of the bubbles in the search for an investor to strike for their jobs and take to the streets again. The bidding competition for the production of e-cars against Ford's Valencia workforce is now seen by many as a deliberate fraud. The IAC Committee Cologne sent a declaration of solidarity. In the meantime, the works council management has openly capitulated to the fight for jobs. It now only wants to strike to achieve the "best possible" social collective agreement. At the same time, Focus production in Saarlouis is booming.

In December, IGM colleagues from Cologne and the STN Intersindical union held a meeting in Valencia organized via the IAC contacts. It was agreed to prepare a joint day of action. Colleagues from STN reported on a successful strike - some time ago - in the canteen at Ford Valencia against the closure of the canteen. This had broad support among the Ford workforce. Colleagues from Cologne suggested that a strike activist should take part in the women's political council and report there. Colleagues from Valencia should be invited to the planned event to mark 20 years of the Opel strike.


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