"We must remain" - not Opel

Source: Labournet.de Germany. 16 July 2009.

Gaston Cherry * In an interview with Wolfgang Schaumberg

Opel will be saved, Arcandor not - is interesting not only what the company called "real economy" by the federal government guarantees, loans or subsidies to support and what not, but also why the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary left hanging just at Opel. The dilemma of the Federal Government is reproduced in the debates of the Left: Why not Porsche, Daimler, Fiat or just Arcandor? And why even a clue? On good advice for the federal government and certainly no shortage Opelaner: From the "nationalization of public scrutiny" (The Left) on a "pan-European occupation of the farms" (Winfried Wolf), the creation of a "global automobile workers grouping" (Karl-Heinz Roth), the conversion of the Astra, Omega, Zafira and Insignia production (ATTAC) to the slogan "Capitalism has gone" (The Left in the left) does the range.

Wolfgang Schaumberg, 30 years long warehouse workers at Opel and active in the workforce group "resistance without borders", describes in the following interview with Gaston Cherry current political crisis, trade union strategies and discusses the proposed solutions - in their perspective beyond the rhetoric.

Gaston Cherry: If the sale to Magna and Sberbank have implications for the workers?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Yes. The majority of the workforce is still in short time, although certain areas in which co-produced for other works will be exempt from the short-time working. But the debate is fueled by new waiver requests.

Which claims are you?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Current is about a strange equity funds, through which we raise the workforce accounted for ten percent of Opel - in total, it covers one billion euros. The sum is about by the omission of holiday and Christmas bonuses and be applied to vierprozentige collectively agreed wage increase - and by further reducing staff. This equity will be managed by the works council and IG Metall. To assemble as this money, the staff at Bochum taught by the council majority that the employees would have signaled to other locations have their consent. It also means that Opel Bochum were again threatened with closure if they because cruisings. Finally, the central works council had already agreed.

Shall manage the BR and the union then to sustain ten-percent share of Opel shares?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Yes, but it's not really clear whether the current model, which provides for the equity funds, with the purchase by Magna really comes into play. It is clear that the union bureaucracy will assume control. This shareholding would be a further step to reinzuholen people in the competition in the competitive pressures - and thus a step towards ensuring that the employees may still connect themselves to each other to maybe get something at some time over this equity to be repaid.

If accepted it? In Bochum, the IG Metall has a vote in April among the union members at Opel on the waiving of the collectively agreed wage increase - as the vote fails?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: There are in the workforce has long been opposition to the official trade union action - perhaps in the form of so-called savage strikes in 2000, through six layers, and in October 2004 over eleven layers. IG Metall leadership people like the district manager Oliver Burghardt was booed recently here in Bochum. The mood at the moment varies between anger and despair: it is organized so not in the union so that it runs through the waiver - there Bochum have a different idea of union.

In Rüsselsheim is different, there is apparently a majority of the staff behind the abandonment rate for the BR, but with us is very controversial: Since 1993 we have pressed a waiver request after another. At that time we were still 19,200 employees in Bochum, we are now only 5,200. With each waiver whistle went a few thousand jobs and accomplishments. There is little confidence that you could save by waiving his future.

Typical of the oppositional mood in Bochum is the fact that only here can tailor the IGM employees personally through waivers. This should not always be so. In the vote on the pay rise 40 percent voted against a waiver. This is the conclusion one must say, however, that some of the people had not received voting slip, unfortunately. Furthermore, it was put off before the vote, approving the waiver would only be valid if there are a total of a concept for a new beginning of Opel. Even those who have agreed to have this done so for a formulation that was still hopeful that we could get the money, perhaps later. We have said, however: The money is gone during a bust, and a so-called "rescue" also - if it came about. But at least 900 members have said flat no. They are those who really set the course of the waiver no hope.

The presence of Chancellor Angela Merkel at the staff meeting at the Rüsselsheim plant looked as if the workers there to leave the solution to the crisis, Opel by state institutions. Deceptive impression?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: The mood in the Rüsselsheim workforce, I do not dare to express myself now. For Rüsselsheim, one must keep in mind that, of the 16,000 employees there, only 5,000 workers, the rest are employees. This is a slightly different workforce composition. There is a different atmosphere, a different tradition in Rüsselsheim - in the works as more people will "you" addressed.

But still: beginning of June, the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Ruettgers said in Bochum and also explains that there is no plant closings, no compulsory redundancies. For this he received applause. The people here trust the roast, not quite, but a politician who promises something so that takes many times until a certain ballast of the soul.

There is a solidarity between the various Opel locations, or any employee is fighting for himself?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: the latter. During the last strike, 2004, for example, it was very difficult for us, that the Bochum Opel workforce was left alone with their strike action. There was an incredibly broad solidarity of the population here in Bochum and its surroundings, but there was no support from the different teams. We have in the works councils of large companies, including Volkswagen, Daimler and others, mostly people who commit themselves clearly and aggressively to co-management. Their slogan is: We are here have been chosen, we must represent the workforce. Each cross-union position will be wiped away with a gesture. The central works council chairman Klaus Franz put it this way: "I am first Opel works council and secondly on a trade unionist." As part of this internalized ideology of competition is that one must erstmal sure can get through one's own shop. This is characteristic of the self-image of the majority of the works council in Bochum, as well as at other locations. In line exists between the works council head Klaus Franz, Opel's Antwerp and in Rüsselsheim and Bochum, Rainer Einenkel in a rather nasty competition.

Why is this country so little of the totality of the Opel workers in Europe, the speech works from 55,000 employees and almost half of its plants in Spain, England, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Austria and France?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Klaus Franz is not only Chairman of the Central Works Council in Germany, but also of European works. Publicly, he is portrayed as an exemplary organizer of European solidarity. It is said that no work in Germany would be closed, and this also applies to the whole of Europe. But the motto is organized under this commonality, is to Klaus Franz, "Shared grief is half the sorrow." He wants to avoid that a particular employee is bleeding - and the others are relieved. The IG Metall has a leaflet which was distributed a few days ago here expressed as "fair burden-sharing" The cleared while the assumption that traverse within the global competition and Opel and GM cost-cutting plans must, otherwise the company could not survive on the market. This distribution is regulated suffering official line of the IG Metall union when it comes to "organized solidarity". In essence, this is a solidarity in the interests of shareholders, the owners of the company who works in this way on their side that accepts that it is not about cost-cutting programs to come. So the suffering is distributed.

Have you, with your slogan "resistance without borders" against any chance? Do you have contacts in the works in other countries?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Currently we have no working contacts with the other sites. This was with a difference. The current chairman of the Antwerp works as was with us at Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, in the Liverpool factory to manufacture there, the connection to English counterparts. At that time he was enthusiastic about our approach to network, but now he's changed sides on this aggressive co-management. We have tried since 1981, much to our network with colleagues in other works. That was important to get us better acquainted with each other to keep each other informed and to better defend against the General Motors management to. We have taken care but not enough for a political debate about our networking goals. We have placed too much emphasis on looking for contact with union officials, works councils - and too little a-firm debate with colleagues in other works. To this extent arising from our international contacts, cooperation remained alive or not. Overall, we have paid much more dearly, and were disappointed that the people with whom we had contact at the other plants, would have to do with the direction of our trade union and political work any more.

With the direction you think lobbying against the interests of capital rather than co-management?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Our perspective is not advocacy, but the empowerment of workforces to defend themselves of their skin. It also means telling people over and over again: you not rely on a few selected people, with a cross on you can not take your fate into their own hands. We have also represented at the council elections: you can not us tick if you think we could get for you the coals from the fire.

For such positions to get fewer votes, but that's the truth. It is certainly a good thing if there are some councils who want to educate and mobilize. What matters is whether it occurs as a staff together in appearance. That is what is uncomfortable for the people, and also characterizes our present weakness. For many, as I said, resigned and waving wearily when they "trade union 'to hear. Add to this a long tradition of hiding behind it do not work properly representatives. It is a telling off on the union, the works to stop the back door: "People like us can so nothing doing." Therefore, we have committed ourselves to it that the workers themselves voting on whether the waiver agrees to the pay increase or not. Otherwise we will not get into a debate about how such a thing en masse and effectively rejects.

Your experience Can you still follow on from last wildcat strike at the Bochum plant, to the "empowerment", which in 2004 took place against the will of the IG Metall union local administration?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Even against the will of the entire IG Metall trade union leaders and politicians - SPD leaders and others - who have said: "Go back to work!" At that time the threat was in the room that Opel Bochum closed, but at least 4,000 jobs should be deleted. We then asked: "No layoffs. It was a fight against the degradation of the workforce, the aim of maintaining the status quo was. After the eleven layers strike, there was then a dirty vote was manipulated, so that the matter was then terminated.

It was important and to this day that the strike was still seen as a success. Not only because the experience itself was experienced as a time of dignity and feeling of power, but also because the employees were enthusiastic about the solidarity of the population, including the demonstration with 25,000 participants here in Bochum. This has courage. Due to the wildcat strike was offered a severance payment in an unprecedented height in order to through with the workforce reduction. Many people had 180,000, another for up to 240,000 euros compensation and managed to escape after the dismissal order and the time in the collecting society in the pension. In this respect, the strike was ended by the fact that all just sitting at the table at home and have calculated whether it is adequate. At the moment, the mood is subdued: From management side have now indicated compensation in the amount of 70,000 euros. This is normal, for the first time to put down. But, given the financial disaster, hope is not currently very high, once again able to enforce such high severance payments, as of 2004.

You use the slogan 'We do not pay for your crisis "- what does that mean?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: erstmal The motto is, refuse to surrender. By forgoing future employment can not be guaranteed. The less we can reduce ourselves to the slogan "Opel has to remain," the more we represent and make demands actions that go beyond the holding frame, the greater is the chance to join other personnel or human actions emanating from Opel Bochum . The greater the chance that something gets going, the rulers before shit scared. So we are trying to call attention to the crisis causes a whole. With the idea "We continue to work so as usual", which is now being formulated by the various staffs, one comes in view of the scope of this crisis is not far away. We can not continue to produce at Opel in Bochum 1200 cars each day - it is increasingly clear that there is no solution to hang it. At this point we are currently quite alone.

However, many people feel during operation and that of what recommends the radical left at the time, a lot is naive and contradictory. For example, we get with that in the settlement of General Motors, the governments of the United States, Germany and Russia hold the reins in his hand. There is already a nationalization of an unprecedented scale in the hallway. Many left is now calling for a nationalization of public control. But what does this 'social control', and on what it refers? Basically it is a model for the socialization of losses and therefore to stimulate the next round of crisis-ridden growth of capital accumulation.

Another problem is the more recent claim to read: "You must now fill the holding". It is not even noticed that we are for such short-term actions here and now, neither have any clarity about the enemy on the receivable - other than the general slogan of "we want no more waivers!" We have also reduced working hours, so that a large proportion of the workforce is at home.

At present, we also discuss the problem as it could mean that other people join together with us to action. Winfried Wolf wrote in his excellent critique of the current Opel Agreement, is the only chance that occupy the European Opel workforces their farms. [1] and Karl-Heinz Roth, who had a long article in the Wildcat [2], thinks there must be a global network of the automotive workforce ago. For this we say: Yes, wonderful - but we must concern ourselves only with the consciousness of the times people. That is well said, but the mood is not so, the connections and the organization are not so, that could work something like that. We do not take people seriously when he does not ask what is going on in their heads. How this awareness of weakness and lack of confidence or trust comes into it, that they could take their destiny into their own hands? It has a long tradition, one must accordingly look in more detail when it comes to trying to break through that. This includes the experience of the Bochum workers to be with such actions and such a course usually alone still.

Her Fling open then to your limits when you, with your slogan of solidarity intersite elsewhere have no support?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: This is what we have in our last GoG Info Others raised worldwide use the leaderships of the big industrial unions on the first national rescue their national economy and their own respective members. The financial bubble in the markets represents a huge bubble over the heads of the Solidarity labor union leaders. We can criticize. But people feel that we do have quite a good idea that stands behind it but still no power. That would certainly be different if we could see that the Bochum Opel workforce is certain steps and then join other workforces. Conversely, we look for action by other staffs, which we can participate - most recently at Nokia in Bochum. With the closure of the booth there, there were two hours stop band of the Bochum Opel workforce, which is in solidarity with Nokia. The problem was that the staff there has not even fought. Instead, there were a few speakers, schönredeten everything: They must now show that one can work well. The staff was soaping up and malochte further. It followed us a sense of resignation and a shake of the Nokia employees in which there was just no core of people who had been standing for a different course and those actually implemented.

The resigned mood among us is fueled by the fact that when we show up leaflets, in which all criticism is what is bad, and that is called capitalism. These charges must then end off with such little phrases such as: "Capitalism," "That is why we need the real socialism" or "why we need a fundamental alternative." These are phrases, and many employees rightly ask, "What is it you before them, how will it go, that there is not another new clique seizes power and makes us ready?" You have a tradition in his bones, which is not just hoffnungsweckend ... " The people feel that> are the big shots' chaotic, not knowing where to go for - but on our side, where that prevails to address alternatives, as well as a big mess.

What would be an approach beyond the phrases?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: Continuing to bear the slogan "We will not pay for your crisis", the left is now on the road, running at us with a debate about what claims a 'we can achieve, "people find themselves and a certain can develop hope that our defense leads to anxiety and concessions at the rulers. In this sense, we have written in the GoG Info: "We must remain" rather than hold up a sign: "must remain remain Opel", "Nokia needs to" remain "Karstadt" or some such has a stupid war factory is to remain. No, we must move away from it. We happened to have landed in our lives in a car factory or a vendor's at Karstadt - because they must sell themselves to lives. We can not get around it to make such fundamental considerations to the people. Is about the same time that "we" who are affected by the crisis, have a long road ahead of us to get out from such a shit.

GoG in your info you write that it might not be to produce more and more cars that it would be better to work less and develop the public transport. Do you want this way away from the production of fetish?

Wolfgang Schaumberg: This debate, we try to accommodate very careful not the way it is done, unfortunately, by comrades here too often, when they claim: "Through an alternative production You will all find work again." That's no good. If we andiskutieren alternatives, then you can not even make sense to mitzufordern simultaneously without a massive reduction in working hours. Not just to have somewhere to work, but because the unreasonableness of our transport system is one part of the irrationality that characterizes our system. Some people tell us that we must now develop an alternative production. But what does that mean? Most work at Opel in the long ribbons of the structural work, the paint shop, the finished and final assembly. Then perhaps you can still produce medium-sized buses, for which there are already many production facilities on Earth. One could with the facilities that are built there, maybe other engines, transmissions and other axes. But a switch to public transport would be in the auto industry until a time associated with a lot of reduction of labor. To that extent it is stupid work, which is also a meaningful reduction. Moreover, it is good to have more free time for all. A discussion on conversion of production but has meaning only if it is embedded in a fundamental criticism of our several hundred year old economic and social system. That is something that can only bring gently into the debate, unless one wants to take the arrogant attitude that people are stupid, and knew only a few left, where it's at.

Thank you for the interview!

* Gaston Cherry printer has learned, studied anthropology, worked as a publishing employee and a freelance journalist, is a member of the group of bricolage and lives in Hamburg

A summary of this interview is in the Jungle World, No. 26, dated 25 Published in June 2009.

Published in express, socialist newspaper for business and trade union activities, 6 / 09

(1) Winfried Wolf: "The six Sollbruchstellen Opel solution. Or: Whit enlightenment 2009 (when Chancellor and VW" pdf file as of May 31, 2009), online at: www.labournet.de as well as a blog entry dated 22 May 2009 under the title "General Money bankrupt", online at: www.lunapark21.net/lunalog.html

(2) Karl-Heinz Roth: "Global Crisis - Global proletarianization - Gegenperspektiven (updated: December 21, 2008), online at: www.wildcat-www.de/aktuell/a068_khroth_krise.htm