Information Letter No. 7 - Let's go ahead to the 2nd International Automotive Workers' Conference in February 2020 in South Africa!

Dear colleagues, The competition among the auto- and supplier companies is intensifying extremely through the advance of new companies, foremost from China, and with the coming transition to electro-mobility and digitalization. Growing workers' unity is countering the increasing attacks:

 

(download letter No.7)

worldwide hundreds of thousands of auto workers are struggling against job destruction and flexibilization and for higher wages and better working conditions. The workforces of the companies are being challenged to join forces on an international scale against the attacks of the automobile corporations and against the shift to the right of more and more imperialist governments, which is currently acutely intensifying the danger of war in Syria. That makes it necessary to overcome the effects of thinking in terms of national industry location sites and nationalism with which the workforces are being divided and put under pressure. The 1st International Automotive Workers' Conference in 2015 in Sindelfingen took a substantial step in this direction: delegations from 18 countries founded the International Automotive Workers Coordination.1

Now it is clear: the 2nd International Automotive Workers' Conference will be held in February 2020 in South Africa! Preparations should begin immediately in all countries, including donation collections for traveling expenses, the election of delegates from the respective countries and with the preparation of the content.

The newly founded preparation committee in South Africa writes: “We thank very much for your support that the incoming IAC conference will be held in South Africa.” The resignation of South African President Zuma in January 2018 showed once again how politicized the mood among the working class and the broad masses of people in South Africa is. The new president Ramaphosa is also especially hated among the workers because he has significant responsibility for the massacre of 34 miners in Marikana in August 2012. Under the guise of a minimum wage law the South African government wants to push through massive attacks upon the working class and, for example, restrict the right to strike. On 23 March, a day of commemoration for the resistance against apartheid2, the metal workers trade union NUMSA organized a strike of several thousands of workers against the restriction of the right to strike. For 25 April NUMSA is calling up to a nationwide day of strike against the restriction of the right to strike3.

Combine the mobilization to the 2nd IAC with making this nationwide day of strike in South Africa known and organizing solidarity with the auto workers. (Solidarity declarations to: General Secretary of the NUMSA Irvin Jim irvinj@numsa.org.za and NUMSA-board Edwardr@numsa.org.za with a copy please to icog@iawc.info

 

GM and PSA-Opel are conducting large-scale attacks upon the workforces. In Vigo (Spain), Sochaux and Mulhose (France) or Trnava (Slovakia) workers are being pressed to work on weekends and labor is being intensified in order to expand production – in Ellesmere Port (Great Britain), Eisenach, Rüsselsheim and Kaiserslautern (Germany), Villaverde (Spain) and Saint Ouen, La Garenne (France) hundreds of jobs are to be destroyed in the respective plants or have already been destroyed. GM shut down the plants in Port Elizabeth (South Africa) in the summer 2017, GM Halol (India) and GM Kusang (South Korea). In South Korea alone this has robbed 100 000 people of their existence, as South Korean colleagues reported. In a number of plants contract workers and core staff workers are struggling together for higher wages and against dismissals, so for example in Rennes and Sochaux (France) as well as in Rüsselsheim and Eisenach (Germany). In Germany Opel has now denied payment of the wage increases of 4.3% beginning 1 Mai 2018, as agreed upon in wage contracts for the entire metal industry. In Rüsselsheim and Eisenach (Germany) workers have organized militant meetings during the breaks on this issue. In the plant Zaragoza (Spain) the workforce was outrageously blackmailed: if the workforce didn't go without wage increases for three years, as well as accept cutting back benefits, flexible Saturday work with 18 shifts and longer daily working time, Corsa production would be relocated and investments stopped. While the three large trade unions accepted, the two smaller unions CGT and Osta opposed. The prompt strike of one shift, solidarity from the partner plant Vigo (Spain, see photo) and the rejection of the negotiation results by 41% of the 5000 colleagues against the unanimous propaganda of the big trade unions, bourgeois politicians and press, radio and television show the growing class consciousness. In Germany workforces were informed by the workers' paper „Blitz“ (lightning) on the day of voting in Spain. We sent the solidarity message: „The first lesson from Bochum: never accept blackmail!“

Send further solidarity messages to: cgt.metalzgz@gmail.com

This shows that the desire for international cooperation is becoming stronger. As when the South Korean GM workers receive solidarity from an Opel worker from Eisenach: “Take up the fight because only those who fight get solidarity.” And from the metal workers union South Africa: „NUMSA stands in solidarity with the Korean metal workers union KMWU and its members and families, who now face an insecure future. We call upon you to unify and do the utmost against attacks on the working class“. The French CGT at PSA writes in a letter of solidarity to the German colleagues on 9 November 2017: „The CGT is convinced that the workers at PSA and Opel can only defend their jobs and working conditions through collective mobilization.“ In this spirit the representatives of the international corporation cooperation GM/PSA/Opel invite to a meeting of the European Opel-PSA-GM-workforces in order to discuss a joint program of struggle4.

 

Also in the VW-plants, self-confidence is growing in the struggle against the shifting of the burdens of the VW crisis onto the backs of the workforce. In the Czech Republic the VW and Skoda union Kovo achieved 12% wage increase for one year and a single payment of 2600€ after threatening with a 10-day strike in May and termination of agreements on additional shifts. International Coordinating Group wrote to the struggling colleagues at Skoda in Mlada Boleslav: “We express our international solidarity to your courageous struggle and would like that you will reach the maximum of your demand. … Your attitude being completely unflattable is a shining example for all workers in complete VW corporation.” In Germany, as a result of self-organized meetings in breaks and protest actions in January, more than 200 contract workers were reinstated at VW Wolfsburg, after having been dismissed on 24 December 2017.

 

In Italy a strike and day of action took place on 23 March at the Fiat-plants Termoli, Melfi and Pomigliano against the restructuring program, which could abolish 8000 of the only 37 000 jobs left. Organized by a „coordination of self-organized Fiat-FCA-workers“ the main rally with about 300 Fiat and logistics workers took place at Fiat Pomigliano, supported by workers of the SI Cobas rank-and-file union and FIOM metal workers union. Many colleagues supported the strike, but stayed at home or went home when they saw the picket line. The FCA board tried in vain to get the colleagues back to work.

 

In the struggle against the oppression of militant workers and unions, solidarity is growing!

Nine union members of a PSA factory in Poissy each received a five months sentence on parole as well as a fine of 11 000€. What was their crime? They had accompanied a colleague to a meeting with the manager in order to support him and discussed for 17 minutes with the manager in his office. The CGT France writes: “The management lost their battle to break up CGT!” The colleagues need our solidarity, e.g. via e-mail at ulcgtyvelinesnord@wanadoo.fr

In Germany, Christian Kowoll’s second dismissal by Opel with an option of altered conditions was pronounced void in court on 20 March. In spite of this, Opel still refuses to employ Christian and dismissed him again. Especially scandalous: the third dismissal was initiated by the works council because Christian had been fighting unyieldingly against the closing of the plant in Bochum and until today is not willing to sell his right

s as a worker with a severance pay agreement. Please send declarations of solidarity to offensiv-bochum@gmx.de

The president of the German union IG Metall Wolfsburg declared solidarity against the ban of the militant union MPRA in Russia. In Russia, the Russian Council for Civil Society and Human Rights supported the lifting of the ban. The appeal verdict is still pending.

 

On March 18, the first anniversary of the unjust sentencing of 13 Suzuki-Maruti-Workers in India to lifelong imprisonment, the workers’ committee FreetheMaruti13 conducted actions of solidarity pressing for their release. The committee calls for further solidarity and writes: “It is a long struggle and only the growing power of the movement and solidarity can lead the fight to success.” Declarations of solidarity to marutiworkerstruggle@gmail.com

 

Spread the word about all of these struggles in the factories, organise solidarity and connect these actions with the preparation of the 2nd International Automotive Workers’ Conference 2020 in South Africa!

Long live workers’ unity!

Long live international solidarity!

 

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

Coordinators of ICOG



2 Anniversary of the Sharpville-Massacre 1960, at which 69 people were murdered

3 Information at: http://www.industriall-union.org/scrap-labour-law-amendment-bills-say-unions-in-south-africa

4 Info letter 13 of GM-PSA-Opel-corporation cooperation siehe www.iawc.info