Autoworkers strike to stop plant closings in France

As the global economic crisis deepens, the capitalist class, the class responsible for the crisis in the first place, strikes at the workers in order to ensure its own super profits. In France, autoworkers all across the country are resisting a new wave of attacks by the ruling class.

The two French auto manufacturers, Peugeot Citroen and Renault, are proposing the elimination of 18,700 jobs, which amounts to roughly 17 percent of their employees in France. (bloomberg.com, Jan. 29) The Aulnay-sous-Bois plant is scheduled to shut down in 2014, which would be the first auto plant closing in France in over 20 years, leaving 8,000 workers without employment.

To protest the plant closings and job losses, many of the workers are heroically fighting back with strike actions, which have included militant marches into the factories. The strikes have substantially slowed down production. Due to the environment created by striking workers, which makes carrying on production very difficult, some workers who wanted to continue working have found it impossible, and have begun resting in half-built cars instead. (Associated Press, Jan. 28)

The bosses have begun bringing in scabs to do the labor that the striking workers are refusing to do until their demands of secure employment are met. People entering the plants to work while the strike is in effect are being met with jeers, eggs and indignation.

The actions of the striking workers have achieved palpable results, as productivity has slipped to one-fifth of normal levels as a result of the resistance.

France’s so-called “socialist” government has proposed a package in order to boost automobile sales, particularly electric cars. The funds, of course, are not intended to go directly to the workers, but rather they are an investment to keep the capitalists’ enterprise profitable.

Workers in France aren’t the only ones facing the prospects of their auto plants closing. In Germany, perceived by many to be keeping its head above water despite the global economic crisis, General Motors plans to shut down a plant that employs more than 3,000 workers, while Ford is planning to close three plants, cutting another 6,000 jobs. (bloomberg.com, Jan. 29)

The only way to stop the destruction of workers’ livelihoods is through taking direct action against the ones administering the destruction: the owners of the plants. It isn’t the bosses who have created their immense wealth; rather, they have stolen it from the labor of the workers. Striking workers are defending their property right to a job. A job is a life or death matter to members of our class, and worldwide we will not stop until our demands for security and the basic means of sustaining life are met.