Autoworkers Need International Solidarity to Fight Bosses, Union Hacks

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — Almost 200 delegates from 27 countries met June 16-18 for the 12th International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) World Auto Council “to address fundamental challenges of [the] industrial and enterprise restructuring process sweeping the auto sector.” But little could be expected to deal with the problems faced by autoworkers worldwide at a meeting where the keynote speaker was Ron Gettelfinger, president of the UAW and the IMF Automotive Department.

While parroting, “We must develop a pathway to build union strength at the major global auto producers and suppliers,” in practice under Gettelfinger’s leadership the UAW has done the opposite. The last example was the sellout of the Axle strikers in Detroit and other U.S. cities (see CHALLENGE, June 4).

Gettelfinger and most union hacks worldwide have done everything possible to help companies cut autoworkers’ wages, jobs and benefits. Nationalism and pro-company unionism have been the norm for these hacks, and not just the UAW. The Canadian Autoworkers Union has just seen its strategy of “trading concessions for job security” blown to bits when GM announced the closing of its big Oshawa, Ontario plant. In Mexico, union hacks have announced their willingness to accept even lower wages, making them competitive with “China’s low wages.”

On June 17, IMF delegates attended a strike solidarity rally with workers at the Cummins Engine plant in Guarulhos. It followed the meeting’s closing speech by IMF General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi pledging to end precarious (non-permanent, low-paid) work. But this symbolic rally was just for show, to pretend these hacks are actually fighting union-busting.

The IMF is calling for a Global Day of Action on October 7. Class-conscious and militant autoworkers must turn this day into one of real international solidarity, blasting the hacks’ nationalism, exposing how the attacks workers suffer worldwide are caused by an international capitalist system faced with sharpening competition for markets, resources and cheap labor, which is leading to endless wars.

This is the only kind of political leadership that can confront the auto bosses growing attacks, and it won’t come from the UAW, CAW or IMF hacks. It requires a red leadership whose goal is, “Workers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains!”

Brazil’s GM Workers Need International Solidarity

Not far away from the IMF meeting place, GM has been trying to hire 600 new non-union workers with lower wages at its assembly plant in São José dos Campos. Meanwhile, the local city government has given GM tax exemptions and other concessions. The company, the local government and the media have attacked the workers opposing this wage-cut scheme, claiming they “oppose the creation of new jobs.” Now GM is threatening to transfer jobs to a plant in São Caetano do Sul, which has a pro-boss union leadership and already has 1,500 workers earning less and with less benefits.

Contrary to the U.S., Canada and Europe, Brazil’s auto industry is enjoying a boom because of the rise of the local market. GM controls 20% of it, making huge profits.

A coordinated struggle of rank-and-file GM workers in Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. behind the slogan, “Same enemy, same fight, autoworkers of the world, unite!”  would go a long way to fight these bosses’ attacks, something they won’t get from the IMF’s pro-capitalist leaders.

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