Mar 19, 2012
The following article was translated from the March 16 edition of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), a newspaper put out by comrades of the revolutionary communist group of the same name active in France.
After PSA Peugeot-Citroën and General Motors signed an agreement, the intentions of the two corporations became clear. The U.S. giant General Motors is going to give the French auto company 420 million dollars. But the agreement is designed to profit both companies. The savings are expected to amount to two billion dollars a year beginning in 2017.
How? Essentially thanks to what they call synergies, that is, savings realized by making common purchases. PSA and GM will create a common company in charge of purchases. Bargaining with suppliers by one of the top world auto makers evidently will allow PSA to pressure suppliers to push down their wages even more than they already do.
The two auto giants expect to combine research capacity, and then, beginning in 2016, production. That’s the date on which they’ve announced they will begin to sell vehicles with a common platform. Since it’s hardly likely that PSA will go the U.S. to produce Cadillacs, the idea is to produce PSA vehicles and Opel (the GM brand in Europe) on the European assembly lines of the two corporations. As of March 2016, the two companies are supposed to begin selling four models in common. Setting up common production lines means juicy possibilities to reduce the number of workers – at least in the minds of the capitalists.
PSA didn’t wait for this agreement to declare war on the workers. It announced 6,800 job eliminations in Europe in 2012, threatening to close three factories, in Aulnay-sous-Bois, in Madrid and in Hordain. The threat is turning into reality. The head of Peugeot industrial operations Denis Martin declared on March 6th the “problems of overcapacity” of the corporation will be “settled in 18 months.” “Settling the problem of overcapacity” in the cold language of the bosses means closing the Aulnay plant and laying off thousands of workers.
These closings – planned since before 2010 – very certainly were included in the PSA-GM agreement. And now? What new attacks are foreseen, in secret, by the two corporations? How many closings of Opel factories, which ones, are forecast to satisfy the greed of the stockholders of the two corporations?
Once again, capitalist corporations concoct their attacks in secret, planning to strike out at tens of thousands of workers. This is why it’s vital to abolish the secrecy that allows such practices. It is vital to prohibit layoffs and to divide the work among everybody without cutting wages.
In 18 months perhaps the problem won’t be “settled!” Varin, Martin and their clique perhaps may stumble on the one thing that can really frighten them: an explosion of workers’ anger, especially from the PSA and Opel, whose factories run at full capacity today but are threatened with layoffs tomorrow.
The bosses are busy making “strategic alliances.” The workers, from all nations, have no other solution than to do the same.