US and European car employers yesterday warned that ‘their’ industry faced wipeout, ‘victims’ of the slump in the motor car industry and the financial crisis of world capitalism.
They were unanimous in their demand for bail-out. In the US the Big Three: GM, Ford and Chrysler were demanding $25bn to provide them with working cash, and warning that they faced bankruptcy if the cash aid was not forthcoming.
In Britain the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF) sent a joint letter to Chancellor Darling, and business secretary Mandelson.
It called on the government to take measures to shield the British automotive sector from a credit squeeze. It demanded the same access to the taxpayers money as that enjoyed by the banks.
It demanded ‘government guarantees.’
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, also warned of mass closures stating: ‘The dramatic falls in demand for new vehicles in the UK, Europe and around the world, combined with the limited availability of funding and liquidity now puts at risk valuable industrial capability.’
Opel has already asked the German government to guarantee loans it might need if the US parent group GM goes bankrupt, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will make a decision on the request before the end of December.
In Milan the head of Italian auto giant Fiat, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, demanded that Europe ‘stimulate the automobile industry’.
Japan’s Nissan Motor chief executive Carlos Ghosn meanwhile gave a grim warning that his company, which has a major working plant in Sunderland, was likely to make ‘zero’ profits in the second half of the current fiscal year.
Paul Williams, RMIF Chairman said: ‘It is vital that the motor industry presents a united front at this time.’
Central to this united front is the Unite Trade union led by Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley.
On Monday November 10 Woodley was part of a ‘United Front’ delegation that saw Business Secretary Mandelson.
After that meeting Woodley named £13bn as the sum that he required to be handed over to the bankrupt motor car employers in the UK to keep them going.
He also named the sum that the united front wanted the EU to raise to bail out the motor employers all over the EU – 40bn euros.
Woodley said: ‘General Motors is running out of money as a result of the crisis in the USA . . . and British workers employed by Vauxhall will be among the victims.’
He added: ‘Skilled British jobs throughout manufacturing are at risk. Where General Motors goes today, other major companies throughout the sector could go tomorrow. Already thousands of workers are on short-time or are looking at a pay cut as a Christmas present from their employers. Only decisive government action on both sides of the Atlantic can stop a problem developing into a full-scale crisis.’
The reality is that handing over billions to the bankrupt motor car employers will not save a single job.
They will simply pocket the money and then proceed with the wage cutting, job cutting and closures policy that they deem to be vital for their profit margins.
In fact advocating handing billions of workers’ taxes over to the big employers is an act of treachery.
The way to defend jobs is to demand that the motor, car industry, whose most profitable section, Nissan, is making zero profits, be nationalised under workers control.
Then the £13bn can be used to good effect to defend jobs and develop the productive forces.
Any attempt to push through redundancies or close car plants must be met with occupations, and a campaign of national strike action to force their nationalisation.
Premier Brown must be told that the trade unions are prepared to bring his government down and bring in a workers government that will nationalise the motor car industry. This is the only way forward.