UAW refusal to accept immediate wage cuts scuppers bail-out

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THE $14bn (£9.4bn) bail-out deal for the Big Three US car giants has failed to get the support of the US Senate.

Its refusal came after the UAW motor car workers union negotiators, who had been talking with Senate representatives while the issue was being debated, refused to agree to immediate wage cuts for their members.

This was the essential requirement of the bail-out, that the ‘Big Three’ should be able to make a fresh start, freed of all negotiated wage obligations to the workers who build their cars.

Not only that, it was emphasised by Senators that the US motor industry could not be a success as long as workers had decent wages, healthcare and pensions, and that the principal requirement of any bail-out would be that all of these gains be abolished.

It turned out that driving the car workers back 60 years as far as their wages and conditions was concerned was the main bail-out requirement.

This was of course to be supplemented by the shutting down of as many as nine plants and the sacking of 30,000 workers.

Now the Big Three bosses will have to find another way forward.

It has already been indicated that this will see the Big Three bosses seeking Section 11 bankruptcy, under which a judge will dictate to the UAW that all of its negotiated agreements with the employer are null and void.

The only way forward for US autoworkers is to defend their interests and their gains with all of the power that they have.

They must follow the example of the Republic Windows and Doors factory workers in Chicago, who occupied their plant, and won their demands.

The UAW must organise the occupation of all of the plants and refuse to accept any state directives annulling their agreements.

The UAW has a $900 million strike fund.

It must use it to launch a national strike action in all of the Big Three plants to defend the union’s wage agreements, to defend every job, and to demand that, since capitalism can no longer run the motor car industry successfully, that it be nationalised and be put under workers control.

It is either make this leap in the development of the US labour movement or see every gain that the working class has made lost, and the labour movement driven back more than 50 years.

The decision of the Senate, and the revelation that there can be no restructuring of the motor car industry under capitalism, without the destruction of all of the gains of the workers, has a special relevance for GM workers, and all motor car workers in the UK.

The trade union of the motor car workers, Unite, is led by leaders who have specialised in presiding over the closure of motor car plants.

They have on their battle standard the closure of the Rover group, the closure of Vauxhall Luton, the closure of MG Rover plus a number of others.

They have not the slightest intention of defending the jobs of workers and stopping any closure attempt of GM’s Vauxhall Ellesmere Port and Luton plants.

They will be seeking to offer, on behalf of their members, job cuts and wage cuts, if the employers pledge to keep a portion of the industry open for the moment.

This is not the way forward. After the failure of the Senate bail-out attempt, Unite must organise the occupation of the Ellesmere Port and Luton GM plants and launch a national campaign for their nationalisation under workers control.

Throughout the motor car industry, job cuts and wage cuts must be opposed with occupations, and a central demand for the nationalisation of the motor car industry in the UK.

This is the only way forward for the workers movement, to expropriate the bosses and to lay the basis for a socialist planned economy.

The trade unions must be willing to take action to win the nationalisation of the motor car industry and must not hesitate to bring down the Labour government and bring in a workers government to do so.