THE German government yesterday made its move to try and secure GM Europe for Magna, the Canadian car parts manufacturer that wants to sack 10,000 GM Europe workers, cut wages and shut down a number of plants.
Magna is in partnership with the Russian state owned Sberbank, whose consortium includes Oleg Deripaska (a one-time holiday companion of Business Secretary Peter Mandelson). Deripaska is the ex-owner of the UK LDV van company. It recently went into liquidation with the loss of 800 jobs, after the workers had followed the advice of the Unite union leaders to take a 10 per cent wage cut, to keep the plant open.
Deripaska wants to produce Opel cars in Russia, and the German government considers that Magna will go easy with car jobs in Germany, a vital matter for Chancellor Merkel just weeks before a general election.
To show goodwill, the German government announced yesterday that it was willing to loan Magna 4.5 billion euros – provided GM handed Opel over to it. The Opel Trust, controlled by the German and German states governments, announced that GM is to reach its decision today.
GM however favours Magna’s rival, the Belgian Venture capitalists RHJ. RHJ has also pledged 10,000 redundancies and plant closures, plus longer working hours and wage cuts.
It is pledging to GM that after two or three years of its rule all vestiges of trade unionism will be smashed throughout GM Europe, and that it will be then willing to sell back a profitable entity to GM. RHJ are archetypal venture capitalist raiders, of the sort that made their debut in the UK in 2005, when Texas Pacific sacked 800 Gate Gourmet workers by megaphone in the car park, after pre-preparing an‘alternative’ workforce to do their jobs – at slave labour rates. You have been warned!
The German trade unions are supporting the Magna bid on the grounds that no German plants will actually be closed, while the Unite trade union is favouring the venture capitalists, despite the experience of its Gate Gourmet members at the hands of Texas Pacific.
What is even more dastardly is that the Unite leadership have been following a policy of keeping their Luton GMM members in the dark about what is to happen to them.
Also, the Unite leaders have made it very clear that they have no intention of fighting to defend their members’ wages, jobs and basic rights. Up and down the country they have been following the policy of agreeing wage cuts and job cuts to try and keep factories open. This policy collapsed at LDV!
Their remaining policies are to oppose an occupation to keep the plant open, and to openly oppose the nationalisation of GMM Luton to save over 1,000 jobs. They are in bed with the Brown government and value their relationship with the government more than they do their members’ jobs.
After all it was Unite that gave £11 million of their members’ money to the Labour Party to prevent it from going broke – but they will not defend their members’ jobs!
Tony Woodley, the joint leader of Unite, has a track record in Luton, where workers fought the closure of Vauxhall Motors, while he agreed to its closure! Woodley and fellow Unite leader Simpson are preparing another sell-out, and they must be defeated.
Workers at GMM Luton and Ellesmere Port must demand immediate mass meetings to organise the fight to defend their jobs. They must occupy the plant to prevent its machinery being taken away. They must organise a national campaign to see it nationalised!