The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Merger talks:
GM, Nissan and Renault prepare to attack their workers again

Jul 10, 2006

Kirk Kerkorian is urging Renault and Nissan to each buy up 10% of General Motors stock. Not so long ago, Kerkorian himself bought up 10% of GM stock. General Motors is at least going through the motions, agreeing to talks with Nissan and Renault.

The papers all talk about what a good idea this could be for GM – because they say it could learn something from Carlos Ghosn, the man who is credited with “saving” Nissan.

And how did he “save” Nissan? By cutting 22,000 workers.

In terms of attacking his workers, though, Ghosn has nothing on GM.

Just in the past year alone, GM itself has rolled out a number of attacks on its workers. It stopped wage increases that had been scheduled for this year. It made attacks on retiree pensions and health care. Over the last decade, it cut tens of thousands of workers – while producing only slightly fewer cars, which means a big speedup. And, it outsourced work that had paid $27 an hour to places paying anywhere from $14 down to $8 an hour!

If this deal goes through, it will be used as yet another sledge hammer against workers at all three companies. Workers will all be pushed to sacrifice once again – this time to “allow the new mega-giant to survive.”

With or without this deal, all three companies will find new pretexts to attack their workers even more. A merger would just serve as just one more excuse.

No matter what the media says, this deal has nothing to do with any problems at GM, or how efficient Nissan is, or how well these companies would fit together. It simply shows how much money is floating in the world’s financial circuits, doing absolutely nothing productive.

One mark of how much money is floating around is the big jump in mergers. GM, Nissan and Renault aren’t the only companies that have attacked their workers recently. And they aren’t the only companies that have made huge profits from those attacks.

This year has already seen a record high number of mergers with companies buying up other companies, with billions of dollars changing hands in the process. And the year is not yet over. The amount of money involved could top 3.5 TRILLION dollars by the end of the year.

Another mark is the jump in the amount of wealth held by the wealthiest. Last year there were 793 billionaires in the world, and 8,200,000 millionaires. All these people together hold more than 33.3 trillion dollars in wealth. That’s almost three times the entire Gross Domestic Product of the United States, the largest in the world, or 14 times the size of the U.S. government budget.

These billionaires keep gathering more and more trillions of dollars in their hands because the companies they own cut the wages, benefits and working conditions of more and more workers.

This is how things work in this capitalist society, with the economy controlled by a dictatorship of industrial and financial corporations. An economy managed to benefit the private interests of a few people is leading society to a catastrophe.

It’s long overdue for that society to be replaced by one where the interests of the whole population come first.