Unite votes for speed-up and savage cuts at GM Vauxhall


THE Vauxhall-Opel GM bosses statement put out yesterday claimed as its subject: ‘Vauxhall and Opel employees dive into their pockets to support the company turnaround.’

It should have said that the Unite leaders, and other union leaders, had enthusiastically signed up to a deal that will see the company diving into their members’ pockets and pensions to take for Vauxhall-Opel-GM four years savings worth 265 million euros a year, with one tenth of the annual savings to be made in the UK, amounting to 106 million euros in four years.

In fact, the membership of Unite at GMM Luton did not know that such a signing away of their wages was to take place by Unite leaders, and that the consequence of this would be a slashing of their wages and terms and conditions of service and retirement.

The Unite leaders ‘signed the UK Memorandum of Understanding and European framework agreement in respect of employee contributions to the Opel/Vauxhall turnaround plan’. These are part of an overall Opel/Vauxhall European labour cost saving agreement to save €265 million per annum. The UK programme will save €26.5 million per annum in the agreement period from 2010 to 2014 and represents 10 per cent of the European total.

Throughout the EU, GM workers are to have €1.06bn stolen off them, by kind permission of the trade union leaders of the EU unions.

To help to raise the cash that the company wants to ‘dive into’, ‘The UK MOU agrees the following employee actions to achieve the 26.5 million euro savings in the UK: A two-year pay freeze, Pension scheme savings, The introduction of SMART pensions.’

With inflation rocketing upwards – last month’s RPI inflation rate figure for April was 5.3 per cent – a two-year wage freeze will turn the UK GMM workforce into slave labourers, permanently exhausted by working at record speeds and intensities, with cut-rate pensions to look forward to, but unable to feed and look out for their families or pay their mortgages or rents.

No wonder Duncan Aldred, Managing Director of Vauxhall Motors, paid a tribute to the union leaders saying: ‘We are proud of our employees’ continued support and our excellent relationships with the unions. We believe that we have come to a positive agreement which recognises the outstanding achievements of our manufacturing facilities and the drive and enthusiasm of our employees.’

However, the reality of these shameful, super exploitative deals is that the union leaders are signing up for their members to work their way out of their jobs and onto the dole queues, with Workfare the only option.

The management statement makes clear that there is no guarantee of employment at GMM plants in the UK. It states that, ‘There will be no headcount reductions at Ellesmere Port. The plant will also produce the next (7th) generation Astra subject to maintaining its competitive position in the Opel/Vauxhall manufacturing portfolio.’

Ellesmere Port will have to enthusiastically take its place in the race to the bottom and out-cut its rivals in order to stand a chance of staying open!

At Luton there is nothing. ‘The current Vauxhall/Renault joint venture Vivaro’s lifecycle runs out in 2013. Vauxhall is optimistic that talks about a new generation Vivaro will be successful.’ As everybody knows, you cannot feed a family on fake management optimism.

The issues are clear. The Unite sell-out of Vauxhall workers must be rejected and thrown out along with its speed-ups, redundancies, wages cuts and pension cuts.

The union must demand and struggle for GM Vauxhall to be nationalised and put under workers’ control as the only way to defend wages and jobs.