A strike by 1,500 militant workers, many of them young, against Ford’s international plans to close its merger plant in the suburbs of Chennai, the capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, was suppressed by the Chennai Ford Employees Union (CFEU). ) and disclosure. .
On July 2, the CFEU, in consultation with Ford management and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the ruling Tamil Nadu party, called off a five-week strike without negotiating with striking workers or even voting.
Under the agreement that was negotiated with Ford behind the backs of the workers, the union dismissed the workers’ claims for a completely unsafe work. It has also allowed Ford to reduce workers’ compensation if they become involved in future labor disputes or to try to prevent production at the factory before its planned shutdown later this month. This decision reiterates once again that the unions reject the workers’ struggle.
Although the party did what the company asked of, Ford has not returned to the second round at the factory, leaving 1,300 of the 2,638 employees now unemployed and unpaid. Ford will probably continue to produce for one shift until production is completely halted on July 31. That way, more young workers and more militants who started the May 30 strike without a CFEU can be barred from the plant until it closes.
In the months immediately after its closure last September, thousands of contract workers at the merger plant were gradually laid off. With workers in subcontractors, the closure of the plant is expected to result in the loss of nearly 40,000 jobs, most of them in the industrial region of Sriperumbudur outside Chennai.
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But trade unions, including those led by Stalinist- and Maoist, who have a strong presence in Tamil Nadu, have not planned a fight against the closure of the Ford factory. Nor have they tried to connect Ford workers with their counterparts in the supplier factories.
Trade unions led by Stalinist CITU and AITUC have also done nothing to encourage workers to support the strike at Ford’s India factory. In this way, they made it easier for the CFEU to set aside and end the strike.
Ford workers at the Chennai factory have shown great courage, repeatedly defying threats from supervisors and police. Faced with dire consequences, the CFEU approved the strike, but initially refused to approve workers’ demands for secure employment, instead focusing only on pressuring management to pay slightly higher pay.
The CFEU has been working repeatedly to dismantle the strike, frustrate workers and eventually end the strike by signing an agreement before the Chennai Assistant Labor Commissioner, implementing management directives. After signing without consulting the striking workers, the CFEU did not even put an agreement in front of them for democratic talks or voting, but simply ordered them to return to work. According to the agreement, workers who continue to protest will have their retirement benefits reduced to 87 days’ basic pay per year of service. It also refers to an agreement that the party has negotiated with the Labor Commissioner not to protest or stay inside until production is complete.
Contrary to the party’s claim that supervisors agreed to increase the severance package from 115 days of basic pay to 121 days of seniority, the agreement says nothing specifically about the level of dismissal pay. It simply means that the details of the dismissal package will be determined through joint negotiations between management and union. Nor does the plan require an initial management offer to continue paying current health insurance until March 2024.
While the workers demanded secure employment that is their only hope, the leadership, with the support of the party, has instead asked them to continue production to finish building the remaining cars and then accept the cut-off proposal. That Ford India’s management was able to end a strike by young military personnel who had been fighting for more than a month and halted car production was only possible through the betrayal of trade unions, which isolated the struggle of the workers’ militia. This applies not only to the officially recognized CFEU at the Ford factory in Chennai, but also to the complete silence of the federation of trade unions led by the Stalinist Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) as well as the Trade Union North Maoist-led (LTUC), which has extensive membership in the industrial areas of Sriperumbudur Maraimalai Nagar. CITU and AITUC are affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or KPM and the Communist Party of India (CPI), respectively, and have a large membership base in Tamil Nadu and throughout India, including in the Ford subcontracting industry.
This confirms once again the warnings issued by the WSWS during the strike regarding the role of trade unions in the era of globalization production. On June 28, WSWS Staff Action Editor Jerry White highlighted the international importance of the Chennai Ford workers’ struggle at an online event with striking Ford workers in Chennai who expressed interest in forming executive committees. He hinted that Ford was also threatening to close its factory in Saarlouis, Germany. Trade unions such as IG Metall have rejected any real labor struggle, living standards and working conditions of more than 5,000 workers in the factory, and ensured a systematic shutdown of production. White stressed that Ford’s allies in Chennai and Saarlouis are workers in other parts of the world who oppose government and corporate attacks everywhere. They can only defend their work by rebelling against Ford’s co-workers in party bureaucracy, self-organizing and uniting workers internationally through executive committees in Valencia (Spain), Cologne, Craiova (Romania), Turkey, the United States, etc.
Sri Lankan Deputy Socialist Party (SEP) Deputy Secretary Saman Gunadasa said that Sri Lankan workers, through their massive strike to resign from the Rajapaksa government on April 28, May 6 and May 10, would almost paralyze the entire country. He especially emphasized the criminal role of trade unions, declaring that they were preventing the working class from promoting its industrial and political power and developing it as a challenge to capitalist rule. He then stressed the need to break free from political and corporate control of pro-capitalist trade unions and to form executive committees as real corporations for the struggle.
Ramesh, who attended this important meeting, later commented on the crackdown on strike unions: “I found out a few hours later from a colleague that the union had called off the strike. He never asked for our opinion on the agreement he made with the management. There was also no debate about the strike. The party leadership decided to do this completely arbitrarily. Yours [WSWS-]The analysis is fully validated. The union, the management and the government are working together to protect the interests of the workers and to deceive us. ”
Ram, a paid employee, said: “Many workers continue to demand safe work. But our union has said these requirements are unfulfilled and unenforceable. But in order to make production resume, he is now trying to convince workers that those who are still claiming work can take legal action once the production goal after July 31 is met. The party leadership is clearly working on behalf of the management.
I also believe that if we want to do anything against Ford, we must unite with Ford workers in Germany, Spain and other countries and break up trade unions. “
Workers in India, Germany, Spain and elsewhere in the world need to learn lessons for the past few years. The only way Ford workers can claim their rights is by joining forces with workers around the world in a network of executive committees and fighting collectively against capitalists, for corporations transforming public ownership, and reorganizing the global economy. on the grounds. of a socialist program that gives priority to social needs rather than to personal gain. Therefore, we call on Ford employees around the world to form their own independent party executive committees and join the International Employees Implementation Committees (IWA-RFC) to protect their jobs and working environment.
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Millions of workers and workers are forced to go to factories and offices every day to make a profit. Trade unions and their labor councils support them in this. Workers must take action themselves and take the protection of their health and life in their hands.