Auto bosses are setting workers against each other as they seek to restart profit-making.
They are pushing for job cuts and closures—and hoping they can divide a fightback.
In some places there is real resistance. After Nissan announced the closure of its Spanish plant in Barcelona, workers angrily protested and burnt tyres outside the factory gates.
They had already started an indefinite strike in early May after initial plans outlined a 20 percent cut to the workforce.
Meanwhile the militant occupation of a Renault plant in northern France has won an important victory. Workers at the Foundry of Brittany plant struck and occupied last week as soon as the workers’ union said it had heard “the guillotine was going to fall”.
After five days of occupation Renault bosses said the plant would not close—for now.
“It’s a reprieve,” said Mael Le Goff, CGT union representative at the factory. “But the hardest part is still to come.”
Management wants to close other factories and to push through other changes that will mean thousands of job cuts.
Around 6,000 workers and their supporters rallied at the Renault plant in Maubeuge on the Franco-Belgium border against closures last Saturday.
In Britain the Nissan plant at Sunderland has been reprieved for the moment. The Unite union’s Steve Bush, national officer for automotive, said, “We send our solidarity to our colleagues in Barcelona.”
But he also said that closure was “a regrettable reminder that automotive manufacturing is facing tremendous challenges”.
And Bush lauded “Europe’s most efficient plant, Sunderland.”
Across the world unions have agreed concessions to boost “productivity” and “competitiveness” at car plants. The result has always been disunity in the face of brutal employers.
There has to be unified resistance.