Canadian Auto Workers Union Calls For "National Auto Policy" With Free-Trade Barriers, Government Intervention
“Community” is a nebulous buzzword here in liberal Canuckistan, with the term moving from a synonym for neighborhood, to describing everything from ethnic groups targeted by vote-hungry political parties, to an exercise in social engineering by Ivory Tower types, eager to ram pseudo-progressive initiatives through various legislative and judicial avenues. No wonder the CAW’s new “National Auto Policy”, full of old-school labor/social democrat policies, is being branded with the slogan “It’s About The Community”. Huh?
“This would be the most expensive plant closure of all times,” warned Rainer Einenkel, chief of Opel’s works council and Vice Chairman of its supervisory board. “This would cost GM billions,” Einenkel said today at a news conference following a staff meeting in Bochum. “Opel would not survive this.”
Opel’s supervisory board meeting ended with nothing. All the board, which consists of 50 percent labor and 50 percent of what is called “the equity side,” could agree on was that revenue, costs and margins are important. It’s good they have figured that out by now. Plant closures have been tabled. There is no sense in announcing them now anyway – plants cannot be closed before 2015.
GM has turned its Ellesmere Port plant into “a no-go area for media amid ongoing speculation over its future,” says The Guardian. Staff and suppliers have been told to avoid reporters. “Attempts to photograph Astras awaiting delivery at the site’s distribution centre prompt a visit from security guards who ask the Guardian to desist,” says the paper.
Today, the Supervisory Board of GM’s ill-fated Opel division is meeting. For the first time, the unions are in the majority on the board. In addition to half of the seats in the boardroom being occupied by representatives named by labor, UAW boss Bob King is taking part in the meeting. It is unlikely that King’s vote will strengthen the labor side. King comes as an emissary of GM, where the UAW, through VEBA, owns 10 percent of the stock. Representing the capitalist side of the equation, King will have to vote for job losses and plant closures. If not today, then soon.
Last week, Opel’s labor representatives complained that GM does not want to negotiate with them. Now it’s the unions that don’t want to talk. Today, labor representatives of eight countries sent Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke a letter. The letter consisted of only one sentence, written in eight languages:
Leaked plans of GM doing the math on plant closures at Opel enrage Opel’s labor leaders. They already had been miffed by GM’s unwillingness to come to the negotiating table. Now they feel blindsided by math by math exercises at GM that involve the closure of Opel’s Bochum plant, the plant in Ellesmere Port, or both.
The website for midwives the voice of union activists Labornotes reports that a South Korean Hyundai Motor worker set himself afire Sunday after management refused his request to slow down the line. The 44-year-old unionist, Shin Sung-hun, is in critical condition. According to the site, Shin poured paint thinner over and set fire to himself .
Without Opel, GM might not be the world’s largest automaker. But it would be a highly profitable automaker. Opel will cost GM approximately € 1 billion ($1.3 billion) in the coming year and will miss its restructuring plan. Reason for the shortfall: Opel will sell only 1.4 million cars next year, 100,000 less than budgeted. How do we know this? We don’t, but it is in an internal forecast of Opel. The document somehow came into the hands of the German magazine Capital.
PSA Peugeot Citroen is planning an Opel-sized thinning of its French workforce, Reuters says, citing comments of Jean-Pierre Mercier, union representative at Peugeot’s factory in the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint Denis. The union claims that PSA wants cut 5,000 jobs. And guess who’s to blame?
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