GENERAL Motors yesterday presented the United States Department of Treasury with its restructuring plan to re-establish the bankrupt company through massive sackings of over 47,000 workers in the US, and by slashing all previous UAW agreements governing wages, hours, flexibility, pensions and health care in the US.
The UAW US car workers’ trade union leadership has accepted the GM plan to obtain $30bn from the US government by shutting down 14 US plants.
The UAW has as well reached agreement with the other members of the US ‘Big Three’, Ford and Chrysler.
Its statement of yesterday, by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said: ‘The UAW has reached tentative understandings with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors on modifications to the 2007 national agreements.
‘The changes will help these companies face the extraordinarily difficult economic climate in which they operate. Discussions are continuing regarding the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) at all three companies.
‘The UAW is withholding the terms of the tentative understandings pending completion of the VEBA discussions and ratification of the agreements.’
There is no reason for considering that GM will not get its way with the UAW leaders over VEBA health care as it has done over slashing wages and jobs.
The completely bourgeoisified UAW leadership has given up everything that the union has won since the Second World War, in order to help the US capitalists survive, at the expense of the UAW’s members and the working class as a whole.
GM in its press statement says about Europe that it ‘is a highly competitive environment that is unprofitable for many vehicle manufacturers, and has a relatively costly restructuring environment.
‘GM has engaged its European labour partners to achieve $1.2 billion in cost reductions, which include several possible closures or spinoffs of manufacturing facilities in high cost locations. . . .GM is also in discussions with the German government for operating and balance sheet support.
‘A sustainable strategy for GM’s European operations may include support from partnerships with the German government and/or other European governments.’
It declares ominously: ‘The company expects to resolve solvency issues for its European operations prior to Mar. 31, 2009.’
It is very clear that mass sackings and closures are to take place all over GM Europe.
It is also very clear, after the complete failure of the Unite trade union leaders to lift a finger to halt the sacking of the 850 agency workers in Cowley earlier this week, that they have not the slightest intention of fighting GM’s plans for the UK or Europe.
They support the Brown government 100 per cent. All that Brown could say over the sacking of the Cowley workers was that he was ‘disappointed’. He has refused to nationalise the motor car industry in the UK and the union leaders have refused to demand it. As the sacked Cowley workers insisted, they have formed a bloc with the bosses.
The union leaders will stand by and do nothing to stop GM sacking tens of thousands in Europe.
GM workers in the UK must immediately occupy the Ellesmere Port and Luton plants, and mount a national campaign for them to be nationalised and put under workers control to defend every job.
The Luton and Ellesmere Port shop stewards committees must urge all GM unions in Europe to occupy to stop any sackings or closures and to mount a Europe-wide campaign for all GM plants to be expropriated.
There must be general strike action to remove the Brown government, to bring in a workers government that will carry out socialist policies. This is the only way forward.