Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 November 2009

General Motors - no to 'divide and rule'

THOUSANDS OF General Motors (GM) car workers walked out across Germany on 5 November after the company pulled out of the sale of Opel/Vauxhall to Magna-Sberbank, the Austrian/Canadian/Russian consortium.

Stephan Kimmerle, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

In a blatant act of political opportunism, before being re-elected chancellor in the recent German general election, Angela Merkel had been pushing Magna-Sberbank to buy GM's European business, including a 1.5 billion euro bridging loan to ensure the survival of the operation.

Now that the sale is off, GM has revived its previous plan to cut 30% of expenditure. This would mean the loss of at least 11,000 out of the 50,000 Opel/Vauxhall jobs in Europe and the threatened closure of plants in Antwerp (Belgium), Eisenach and Kaiserslautern (in Germany), Luton (England), as well as severe cuts in other plants like Bochum (Germany).

GM is again blackmailing the workers with the demand, 'make concessions or you will suffer when Opel/Vauxhall goes bankrupt'.

Union leaders

The fight against threatened cuts in jobs and working conditions by either GM or Magna-Sberbank requires a united approach by European trade unions. Disappointingly this has not been adopted by the trade union leaders who instead have adopted a 'beggar-thy-neighbour' approach.

Klaus Franz, chair of the all-German Opel works' council has been cooperating with the right-wing Merkel government, even though the Magna buyout would have led to plant closures elsewhere in Europe. Similarly, in Britain Unite leader Tony Woodley praised GM's u-turn as the "best deal for Britain".

However, the differences between the Magna deal and the current plan to keep Opel/Vauxhall with GM are minimal as far as the workers are concerned. For workers in Germany, the Magna deal also included the loss of 4,500 jobs - accepted by the works' council. For British workers the 5,500 jobs at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port and Luton have not been rescued. The plant at Luton in particular has a question mark over it under the plans of GM.

The refusal of union leaders to adopt an international strategy has led to severe problems for the workers. The outrage that exists in Germany is not being used to strengthen the struggle and fight the cuts. Instead, it can be used by the government to play on national divisions.

This nationalist approach has led to a situation where workers in Britain and Poland have welcomed a development that still puts thousands of jobs in their plants at risk. Management can continue with their divide and rule policy, not only between countries but also between different plants in the same country.

Workers cannot rely on their respective capitalist governments or politicians to solve their problems - as is clearly evident from the moves of all capitalist governments to bail out the banks and other capitalist institutions and companies at the expense of workers' jobs, and to make cuts in public services and living standards.

The jobs crisis is not simply one in GM or just the auto industry. It is part of the crisis in the world capitalist economy and a lasting solution requires a socialist solution.

The struggle to save jobs is linked to the need to use the vast technology, knowledge and wealth of the car industry to develop green technology and public transport on a massive scale as well as other socially useful goods.

Abridged article. See full text on

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 11 November 2009:

Fight for real jobs and free education

War and occupation

End the war in Afghanistan: Bring the troops back now!

Socialism 2009

Socialism 2009: An excellent weekend!

Postal workers strike

Postal workers force management back

Defend the four campaign

Unison witch-hunt: Defend the Four campaign gets a boost

Campaign for a New Workers Party

RMT conference on political representation

International socialist news and analysis

20 years after fall of Berlin Wall, capitalist triumphalism turns rotten

General Motors - no to 'divide and rule' in Germany

Ireland: 90,000 march against government cuts

United Socialist Party congress delegates defy difficult conditions in Sri Lanka

Socialist Party workplace news

Leeds bin strike - week ten

London bus strike

Strikes force concessions

Steelworkers get organised and score a victory over bonus payments


College strike

Young People

Big business fights for fees: Students must fight back

Internationally young people fight for their rights

Socialist Party review

Reclaim the game by John Reid

Anti-fascists tactics - What happened in Newport?


Home   |   The Socialist 11 November 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleGenetic Modification: A contribution to the debate

triangleGenetic modification: A means of making profit

triangleIs UK car building back in Top Gear?

triangleShould socialists support GM foods?


trianglePlans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleRBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

triangleRoyal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system


triangleLambeth Socialist Party: What is Socialism?

triangleLambeth Socialist Party: Justice for Grenfell


triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee



Unite protest against blacklisting


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm



BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes



Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test



School staff strike against privatisation



Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services



PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest



Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000



TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections



Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students



Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice