December 9, 2023


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As Ford confirms closure of its Saarlouis plant: Lessons from 50 years of car production

Ford Motor Company’s determination to halt production at its plant in Saarlouis, Germany in 2025 is component of the major global assault on the social gains and rights of the performing class considering the fact that the 1930s.

At stake are not only the futures of the households of the 4,600 directly employed workers but also a further 1,500 staff in the neighbouring provider providers and the economic life of the overall region, in which numerous tens of hundreds of jobs rely on the auto field. The Ford-Saarlouis workforce is agent of staff all-around the environment whose livelihoods are getting wrecked.

World automobile firms are utilizing the shift to significantly less sophisticated electric motors to reorganize the whole output system and squeeze just about every past ounce of revenue out of workers. Ford claimed a earnings of just about €9 billion on revenue of €115 billion for 2021. CEO Jim Farley announced that the enterprise aims to obtain an functioning return of 10 p.c by 2026.

The company’s most crucial aides in this are the trade unions and their functions council reps. They agree with the companies on wage and occupation cuts, suppress any resistance to them and divide employees by participating in off one particular location from a further. The “bidding contest” concerning the Ford vegetation in Saarlouis and Valencia, in which equally the German IG Metall and Spanish UGT unions participated, is only the shabbiest variety of this rigged match.

Nevertheless the restructuring of the automobile business is only just one front in the capitalists’ world-wide offensive versus the doing the job class. The spectacular rise in inflation—a consequence of trillion-dollar state giveaways to the economical markets and the NATO offensive versus Russia—is driving a great number of working course households into poverty and hardship. The “profits ahead of lives” coverage in the pandemic has brought about thousands and thousands of fatalities globally and lifelong illnesses for even additional. The huge sums used on rearmament and war are being recouped through cuts in schooling, overall health treatment and social companies.

Although thousands and thousands of staff throughout the world are shedding their livelihoods, the fortunes of shareholders and the multimillion-greenback salaries of top managers proceed to increase.

50 years of the automotive business in Saarland

Saarland, located in the border triangle of Germany, France and Luxembourg with a populace of just underneath 1 million, has been specially tricky strike by this upheaval. Its financial advancement exhibits great parallels to the Ruhr space.

Listed here, as there, the coal and steel industries ended up at the centre of economic everyday living until finally the postwar period of time. In 1960, additional than 125,000 men and women had been nonetheless utilized in Saarland’s mining and steel industries by the early 1970s, this determine was significantly less than half, and unemployment experienced risen over 15 %.

The colliery die-off began in the 1960s and lasted until finally 2002. The announcement of the closure of the Ford plant in Saarlouis fell nearly accurately on the working day the very last colliery closed 20 a long time in the past. Mining’s demise was accompanied by the winding up of the Saarland metal industry. In the meantime, of the more than 125,000 men and women utilized in coal and metal, only around 7,000 steelworkers from Saarstahl and Dillinger Hütte continue to be.

The shutdown of Saarland’s coal and metal industries acquired Oskar Lafontaine, as Social Democratic Get together (SPD) state premier, and Peter Hartz as labour director of Dillinger Hütte and Saarstahl, among other individuals, their spurs to acquire on bigger jobs. IG Metall and SPD member Peter Hartz, whose brother Kurt headed the IG Metall in Völklingen for a few many years, turned head of human sources at the VW Group in 1993 and in 2002 devised the “labour market and welfare reforms” named following him for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD).