Vanguard December 2013 p. 2
General Motors Holden workers at the engine plant in Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne have dared to show a bit of fighting solidarity as some faced the prospect of losing their jobs at the end of the year.
More than 150 workers walked off the job on Thursday 14 November when the GMH bosses announced that they would get a maximum of 52 weeks redundancy pay, regardless of years of service.
This was an unexpected kick in the guts for some 30 workers who had seen 70 of their mates take a voluntary package which paid 4 weeks for each year of service, plus another 3.5 weeks.
Having earlier voted to support a three year wage freeze along with cuts to sick leave, overtime and work breaks, the workers had reached their limit. They were hopping mad and just walked off, disgusted at the greed and cunning of General Motors, which had stock-piled engines at Elizabeth plant in South Australia in case of trouble at Fisherman’s Bend.
Of course, GMH scurried off to the Unfair Work Commission to scream "wildcat", "illegal", "outside the EBA bargaining period" and so on. And of course, the Commission duly ordered the workers back to work. But, unfazed, the workers took a few more days off before returning the following week.
At the time of writing, negotiations are continuing between GMH and the Australian Metal Workers Union and some sort of deal will be worked out. Regardless of this, GMH workers everywhere know what to expect if and when the company decides to cease manufacturing motor vehicles in Australia.
Even if it’s only a rearguard action, if you don’t fight, you lose!
We reprint below a newsletter that references struggles by General Motors and Opel (German subsidiary) in Europe and elsewhere:
From the representatives of the international corporate cooperation GM / PSA
International Newsletter GM-PSA
No. 3 – October 2013
Dear colleagues, dear friends,
herewith you are again receiving current information from our international corporate cooperation at General Motors and PSA:
1. At Opel in Bochum (Germany) a 17 hour-long works meeting took place on 9 and 10 September and was followed by a 6-hour self-organized strike against the closure. It was the longest works meeting in the factory's history and until now the climax of active resistance of the workforce. With this the staff foiled the attempt to get them to surrender in the face of the closure plans. The colleagues express their thanks for the solidarity messages from Brazil, Spain, Russia, USA and Switzerland. The statement of the trade union at GM St. Petersburg (Russia) states: “It is time for the struggle! Let us fight together! Let us join against the attacks of GM!”
This militant action gave an important signal for the path of the working-class offensive shortly before the federal elections in Germany. It was kept almost completely quiet in the largest media, but this censorship was partly broken through by special editions of the corporate newssheet “Blitz” (“Flash”) and with the help of the public relations work of the MLPD. This action in Bochum was a great encouragement for the militant workers in Germany. In Bochum the plant management made a first concession and postponed the closure of plant 2. The solidarity circle for the strike of the Opel workforce has meanwhile collected more than 30,000 euros for the strike cash box and offers strike payments for the self-organized strike.
Women of the Bochum women's committee “BASTA!” organized a protest action during the International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main at the exhibition stand of Opel on September 19. The media reported quite a lot about this action and the workers were enthusiastic.
2. After the actions on 10 September against the government pension plans a corporate-wide day of action against the “anti-social compensation plan” of the chairman of the board Varin was carried out at PSA in all of France on 18 September. The colleagues are fighting against wage freezes, unpaid work on Saturdays and further attacks. Another day of action took place on 11 October, and on 15 October the PSA colleagues again participated in the national day of action against the pension plans.
3. In Brazil the struggle against the anti-social policy of the government is continuing. After a national day of action of the trade unions in July new actions are planned for October.
4. The factory for gear units Strasbourg (France) was sold and is now called Punch Powerglide Strasbourg. The trade union CGT tells us that it will maintain the connections of solidarity and will continue to be available under the address firstname.lastname@example.org
5. The trade union CGT at Opel in Saragossa (Spain) refuses to accept that the relocation of production from Korea to Spain (model “Opel Mocca”) is supposed to be bought with concessions and further wage sacrifices.
6. In this context are the plans of General Motors to cut back production in Korea step by step. It is an outrageous anti-union policy of GM that attempts to shift the blame on the militant Korean trade unions. It is a fact that GM is afraid that its comprehensive production in Korea is dependent on the strong Korean working-class movement.
We have expressed our solidarity with the Korean metal workers' union (KMWU) in its struggle against this policy of blackmail.
7. In South Africa 31,000 workers of the entire auto industry of the country went on strike for wage increases on 19 August. GM colleagues also participated.
8. At the beginning of August our colleague Frank Hammer visited the struggling colleagues of ASOTRECOL in Bogota (Columbia) on the second anniversary of their struggle. The colleagues who were dismissed by GM Colmotores have been camping for two years in front of the US embassy to achieve their reinstatement through GM. Frank Hammer's visit is an expression of a solidarity movement for this struggle, which already collected more than 10,000 dollars in donations in the US alone.
9. GM achieved new record sales of more than two million cars on the Chinese market from January till August. This gives cause to reflect that a further increase of production and sales of cars with combustion engines is not compatible with the future of the world climate, the preservation of the natural resources and therefore incompatible with the future of humankind. We auto workers must stand up for a future in accordance with nature with all our strength. If this is not compatible with capitalism, then it must be correct what Evo Morales (President of Bolivia) said: “Either capitalism will die or our Mother Earth”. We would indeed prefer the first.
Furthermore we would like to draw your attention to the website of the International Automotive Workers' Conference to exchange information during the preparation of the International Automotive Workers' Conference in 2015: www.iaar.de