Information Letter No. 6 -Struggles of Automotive Workers see a global revival - 2nd International Automotive Workers Conference will take place in South Africa in 2019

- We are very happy to inform you that 2nd International Automotive Workers Conference (IAC) will be held in South Africa in 2019.

 

An application filled with enthusiasm has been submitted to International Coordinating Group (ICOG) from our South African friends. ”... If this upcoming conference will take place in South Africa, a lot of automotive workers will support this with full power und will get part of militant automotive workers movement. Influence of this conference will make mobilization of automotive workers in South Africa easy, as well as international militant movement will get support of their trade unions. Remember that South Africa has seven big automotive corporation with many suppliers. To win the workers to join international militant movement of automotive workers, will mean a big success, because with that this movement will get strengthened....“ (application of South African supporters of IAC)

South Africa is the most industrialized country of continent Africa. Automotive industry of South Africa has a workforce of 35.000 , which is experienced by struggles, in various locations of automotive corporations (GM, Ford, Daimler, VW, Toyota, BMW) and many other ten thousands in supplier industries, like Continental and Bosch. Big majority is organized by metal workers union NUMSA and also conducted signifant corporation wide strikes..South Africa is a country of developed class contradictions. Through a massacre by police in Marikana (close to Johannesburg) directed on striking miners at platinum mine of Lonmin corporation 34 miners were murdered in the year 2012. This was a signal leading to a revival of workers struggles. Since then were and are mass protests opposing miserable living conditions. Since the year 2000 militant workers of Daimler and VW in South Africa have strong relation to International Automotive Workers Counsel. Today we are connected by a warm friendship, especially between the workforce of Daimler East-London and Stuttgart/Sindelfingen in Germany. Affects will be given to further countries of African continent, which since now are less represented in IAC. Cooperation with NUMSA, also in winning this union as supporter of International Automotive Workers Coordination, may push participation of further trade unions of other countries.

The implementation in South Africa requires good organization work and many ideas and suppport of all comrades, e.g. for the financing of travel expenses of all international delegations. These difficulties will be solved by the South African auto workers, along with all members of the Automobile Workers Coordination - making the IAC a successful second mass meeting of the militant automobile workers movement and its supporters and families from all over the world.“

Globally hundreds a thousands of automotive workers are fighting against annihilation of jobs, flexibilization and for higher wages and better working conditions. The sharpening of the struggle of competition by international automotive corporations for more shares on the market requires to unite closer, a mutual exchange and coordination of struggles upon all borders of corporations and countries. In preparation of 2nd International Automotive Workers Conference let us win more and more militant workers, trade unions and subdivisions of trade unions, automotive workers and supporters for international cooperation work and construction of International Automotive Workers Coordination!

 

In the year 2017 we have made the struggle of the workers at Maruti Suzuki in Manesar/Gurgaon in India to an issue of all international automotive workers. Through activities in front of embassies, like in Madrid, with own posters in Spain, Columbia and Germany, we showed our determined protest against the conviction of 13 union leaders of Maruti Suzuki to life sentences. Alone in Germany in May the result of collecting donations was 1255,01 Euro. This sum was forwarded to the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union to support the convicted workers and their families. The struggle for a release of the convicted leaders of the trade union requires an ongoing support and solidarity.

 

In India in Pune (close to Mumbai) VW refuses since one year the settlement of a bargaining agreement. 36 negotiation rounds ended with no result on higher wages and a new contract. On January 8th eleven representatives of the trade union started a hunger strike. Since beginning of this hunger strike the workers are rejecting in solidarity the offered breakfast and lunch of the company. After five days already it was necessary to bring two of the hungerstrikers to hospital.

 

Also at Volkswagen Autoeuropa in Palmela/Portugal workforce rejected with a clear vote the introduction of regular work on Saturday. The workers committee resigned and on August 30 the workers went on strike for 24 hours.

After the election of a new workers committee in November the situation came to a head. There was a big majority of the votes for the lists and colleagues, who had determined refused introduction of regular work on Saturday. After negotiations with the management of VW new elected workers committee agreed to a further flexibilization of working time. This contents a binding upon work on Saturday and Sunday in a continous week of 7 day and 24 hours a day, in mode of after 5 days of work, 2 days are free. Again the workforce rejected this in November by a two-thirds majority of votes. Actually there is a call out of the workforce to go on strike on weekend of February 3 and 4, 2018

(Picture: Activity of solidarity in Columbia)

 

On December 21 a third of the workforce at Ford Craiova in Rumania went on strike. Their protest was directed against the reform of the governmental system of social assurances. Workers have to pay social assurances now for themselves, which makes a loss of 22 percent. The settlement of a bargaining agreement of the union at Ford doesn't compensate this, not even partial and is related to further flexibilization. At Dacia (PSA/Renault) from their trade union was agreed upon a bargaining agreement, which compensates most of the governmental cuts. At Ford location this was considerably less.

 

Last year in December contract workers at VW in Changchun/China had a success. Unexpected FAW/VW offered on Dezember 21 hundreds of contract workers a regular contract. This gave contract workers a takeover to a regular job. A news on website www.iaar.de sums up:

In this contract however is written by word-for word "All disputes about payments, achievements and other questions were solved from both sides by mutual agreement, when the contract was signed." FAW/VW gave the workers only one day of time to decide, if they will sign the contract or loose their job. Discontentment of workers with this contract and the proceeding is visible and many are furious about this. Nevertheless nearly all of them have signed the contract, except 5 workers, which refused to do this. These were the elected speakers of the workers, Fu Tianbo, Ai Zhenyou and 3 others of the group of protesters. More then 900 workers have got a regular contract. For those 900 this means double of their wages, additional social benefits and a since then unknow security upon their job. They cannot be accused for their signature under the contract. But VW has to be accused, because through this compromise the corporation tries to legalize 10 years of fraud on wages.”

In Germany there were in December several self organized protest activities of contract workers together with the regular workers. At VW in Wolfsburg uand Hannover several meetings inside of the locations during breaks, militant speeches and activities at workers meetings und a ralley took place in front of the gate of the plant. This was related to the demands “Takeover of contract workers, oppose being put under pressure through working conditions and work on weekend.“ At Daimler/Sindelfingen there were strikes against being put under pressure through working conditions and understaffed workforce. German colleagues from Opel and french colleagues from PSA startet coordination of their struggle against the plans of PSA/Opel management with a mutual exchange and visits and cooperation.

Since beginning of January 3rd in Germany 3,9 millions of metal workers are standing in a struggle for a bargaining agreement, demanding a a plus of 6% on wages and a binding regulation to have the possibility to decrease working time, limited by 2 years, to 28 hours a week with a partial financial compensation. More then 1 million of metall workers already went on warning strikes. Last week of January startet 24-hour-strikes. the demand on decreasing working time, like to a 30 hours a week by full compensation of wage, plays more and more a role in the discussions. In December on initiative of German Coordinating Group buttons demanding 30 hour a week by full compensation of wage and others were published. This is a good idea, which for sure can be put into action in many other countries.

 

Negotiations for a bargaining agreement of 130.000 metal workers in Turkey, with it automobile workers of Renault,a2.jpg Mercedes-Benz, MAN, Ford, Bosch, Magna and others, failed. Trade union „Birlesik Metal Is“ called her members and other trade unions to go on strike on February 2nd , despite of a govermental ban of strike. Government of Turkey has in reference to the national state of emergency already given the 6th ban on a strike. Struggles of the workers should be hind whatever happens. „Birlesik Metal Is“ related in declaration of January 26 the call to go on strike with the demand for a general right to strike. On January 30 the trade unions reached a two year agreement with 24.6 % increase in wages and 23 % on social benifits. They gained also complementary health insurance in line with there demands. This success based on their big power and readiness to struggle, in refusing to recognize the strike ban. IndustriAll congratulated the militant trade unionists and stressed on website „Unity, resistance and determination bring great victory to turkish metalworkers“. And the general secretaries expressed: “You have made a great example to the whole world that when you stick together, anything can be achieved. We trust that this unity will be maintained.”

 

In Czechia trade union Kovo at Skoda in Mlada Boleslav now set up a demand on 18% increase in wages and a strike to push through this demand can not be excluded. Already last year „Modern Trade Union“ at VW Bratislava/Slowakia could get a result of more then 14% after a demand of 16%.

 

A big international protest was given to the decision of the court in St. Petersburg/Russia on January 10, 2018, when giving a decree on a ban and disolving interregional trade union association. In declaration of protest and solidarity of ICOG ( complete document attached) is written:

Ban and dissolving MPRA is directed against its successfull building up in several car companies in Russia, like Ford in Wsjewoloshsk close to Saint Petersburg, AwtoWAS/Lada in Toljatti, VW Kaluga and many other more plants. Same way the ban should hit the militant trade union work of about 4000 membership. Signifant strikes, like at Ford in the year 2007, had brought them since then respect and achknowledgement under an increasing number of workers.

Justification of the court, MPRA should relate their work only to her own field of activity, shows very clear, that especially organizing of trade union solidarity, also over country boarders is intended to be hind. So MPRA had a leading role in support of the struggle of russian truckers against higher taxes due to conduction of a state-owned toll systems. Accused is MPRAs' affiliation to International Metal Workers Association IndustriALL, in relation with alleged financial support from abroad. IndustriALL has declared protest against the ban of MPRA and is standing for reacknowledge of its russian affiliate.

First ban of a trade union in Russia marks an open political oppression of oppositional, progressive forces, just in the situation of upcoming presidential elections in March.

We condemn this fundamental attack on trade union rights, organizing workers solidarity, foundation of a strong international (trade union) workers unity and political oppression of trade unions.

Representatives of MPRA from Russia had participed at several Automotive Workers Counsels in Germany, as well as at the Foundation Meeting of International Automotive Workers Coordination at 1st International Automotive Workers Conference in Sindelfingen/Germany in October 2015.

Get in solidarity with MPRA, with the members and supporters!

Organize international protests and activities by your trade unions and organizations, especially by all affiliates of IndustriALL!”

 

The struggle against the political dismissals of three trade unionist of Conlutas at GM/Sao Jose dos Campos/Brazil and Siegmar Herrlinger at Porsche/Stuttgart-Germany was successfull. The representatives of Conlutas were reinstated, one is going to be retired. Porsche withdraw the illegal dismissals of Siegmar Herrlinger at the Labour Court and pays full loss of salary. Dismissals were given because Siegmar Herrlinger repeatedly denounced the fraud of emissions at works meetings and demanded the punishment of the responsibles. This is a big success of solidarity!

 

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Picture: Porsche capitulated. On December 19 more then 60 supporters and Siegmar celebrated with enthusiasm the great victory of Siegmar Herrlinger



In January activists of Auto Workers Caravan, trade union UAW and International Automotive Workers Coordination of USA wrote: „UAW has to go against racism. Racist incidents and attacks grow in USA in the whole country. Targeted are also coloured members of automobile workers union UAW (United Automobile Workers). This touches all members of UAW.“ They describe several racist assaults. “We call upon UAW members on the base and all militants of the union to do all what is possible - either complaints by groups , our committees of civil rights, our publications of the union, social media, etc. - to condemn racism, to call to account the employers because of hostile working atmosphere and show solidarity. There is a obvious relation between the racist incidents on work places and Donald Trumps policy of white dominance. It is time, that leaders of UAW condemn Trump as enemy of the workers. When the leadership is not leading, then local union and the base has to do this.“

 

Make public all of these struggles in all locations and unions, organize solidarity!

On website of www.iaar.de you can find different declarations of solidarity.

Long live workers unity!

Long live international Solidarity!

 

Carlos Luiz Prates Mancha (Brazil), Diego Rejon Bayo (Spain), Joern Kleffel (Germany)

Coordinators of ICOG