Oct 29, 2012
Ford Motor Company has announced it will be closing three plants in Europe: one in Belgium and two in Britain. All together, 5,700 Ford workers will lose their jobs. Ford says it has an “overcapacity” in Europe, and it has no other choice but to close plants.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally said, “The same ‘One Ford’ plan that transformed our business in North America, and is guiding us toward the better future, is being used to address the crisis in Europe.”
Better future? Better future for who?! For the Ford family, Ford giant stockholders and the banks, certainly. But for Ford workers – absolutely not!
This is what the “One Ford Plan” has done in the U.S.: Ford used the crisis to freeze the wages of its existing workers, and to cut in half the wages of a second tier of new workers. It got rid of all responsibility for the health care costs for retirees, and lowered the money it’s putting toward pensions. It increased the amount of money workers pay toward their health care.
And in the plants themselves, the company has used the crisis to finish what it started over a decade ago, when it spun its parts production out to “independent” companies paying their workers much lower wages. Claiming too much “overcapacity” in the middle of a severe downturn, Ford closed a number of its assembly plants.
But then, when production increased after 2009, Ford didn’t increase its capacity – just the output of the workers still remaining. It has imposed faster and faster line speeds, or added more jobs onto each worker as the line speed remained steady. Ford has imposed a vicious speed-up on its workers.
On top of that, Ford imposed what it called “alternate work schedules”: instead of regular 8-hour days, five days a week, workers have found themselves working 10 to 12 hours a day, and returning again the next day to do it all over again. All at straight-time pay, no overtime. With times and schedules shifting around constantly.
Ford’s “new plan” has destroyed workers’ job conditions, their bodies, and their standard of living.
This is what they now want to impose in Europe. Their plan for a “better future” is to destroy the lives of workers to increase their bottom line – no matter where those workers are.