Update: European car-industry, 2005

Various short articles on different developments within the European car industry in early 2005.

As an update on the situation and strikes in the car industry in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Italy we took some material from several (leftist and not) newspapers. The struggle at Dräxlmaier in Bremen, Germany, is yet another example of the industrial power workers have in their hands in post-fordism. Dräxlmeier is one of the main German direct investors in Romania and other countries in Eastern Europe. The (wildcat) strike at Skoda in the Czech Republic and the spontaneous protests at Fiat Mirafiori in Italy counterpose the silent closure of the Rover factory in Britain (see also the articles on Skoda and Citroën in this edition of the newsletter and those on Daimler, GM/Opel and others in ‘prol-position news’ #1).

Siemens wants to close down plant for automobile parts and re-locate production to the Czech Republic
April, 2005. After the Easter holiday 2005 it became official: about 1250 jobs will be cut in Würzburg/Germany and re-located to Ostrava in the Czech Republic. The metal union in Germany reacts as usual: they complain about the anti-patriotic management, they beg politicians for solidarity and they organise toothless symbolic protests, such as a human chain around the factory, on the 15th of April 2005. Nevertheless the rank-and-file union members talk about a ‘combative atmosphere’ and refer to ‘the loss unemployment benefit and the difficulty to survive on Hartz IV money (see article in newsletter n.1)’ as the main fear and driving force of the workers.

US-company Danaher closes NEFF (automation and driving technology) in Waldenbuch, Germany
22nd of April, 2005. The US company bought the supplying company and wants to re-locate production to Brno in the Czech Republic. The unions organised actions similar to those at Siemens. There is also a web-site with info on the stage of resistance.
http://www.arbeitnehmer-danaher.de

Slovakia: Argument about labor-shortage

April 13th, 2005. In this country, car-producers have to deal with an unknown problem: the lack of qualified employees. In Slovakia it is already by far the biggest industry. In 2004, according to the Slovakian weekly newspaper for economics “Trend”, the automobile industry reached a turnover of 310 billion crones (roughly 8,2 billion Euros), accounting for 25 percent of the overall industrial production of the country.

Volkswagen Slovakia is, according to Minister Miku-láš Dzurinda, the “motor of the Slovakian economy”. In addition to Volkswagen and its many car-suppliers, two big car-factories are coming into the country with PSA Peugeot Citroën in Trnava and Kia in Žilina. The concentration of such firms will, of course, attract other suppliers. The automobile sector will also be the biggest employer of the country by far. According to a prognosis of the federation of the Slovakian automobile industry, Slovakia, ultimately, is supposed to produce 800.000 cars per year by 2007, when PSA and Kia reach full production.
Volkswagen Slovakia employees more than 9000 employees already, according to its own statements. PSA and Kia want to hire between 2300 and 2800 employees each. A multiple of those numbers of employees will be required by employers in the supplier industry.

Assessments project that in five years up to 100,000 people will be employed by the automobile industry. And so investors, who are coming in streams, are threatened with the paradoxical situation, that they will have to vie for qualified workers, despite an unemployment rate of almost 18 percent. [In German here]

Final crisis of Rover in the UK

On the occasion of the final crisis of Rover in the UK the Socialist Equality Party (Britain) published a detailed article on the development of the automobile industry in Great Britain: ‘The closure of MG Rover and the need for an international perspective’. Have a look here