We publish here a leaflet that the comrades of the Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen of Germany has distributed since the starting of the "spontaneous" strike a the Brussels Volkswagen factory after the suppression of thousands jobs have just been announced in November 2006. This group which claims to "relate to the experience and theoretical gains of the Communist League, the First, Second and Third Internationals and the currents of the Communist Left" , is discussing with the IBRP since now several years. The GIS positions can be known more widely by visiting its internet site : http://www.gis.de.vu/.
The comrades distributed the leaflet in several cities of the country. Their statement is clearly on the side of the workers struggle and interests. Thus, we thought useful to reproduce it and to make it known in other languages. Denouncing the manouvers of the unions and of the company management, the leaflet calls for workers' international solidarity and for their own control of their struggle.
It also calls for "an internationally organised defensive struggle of all employees". Behind this formulation, we can understand that the comrades put forward the idea of an international extension within the Volkswagen company itself. Without going back here to the experiences of the 1970's and 1980's, this question of "extension within the company beyond the frontiers" has already been raised during the strike - also spontaneous and against the unions slogans - of the OPEL workers in Bochum (see our bulletins 28 and 29, nov. and dec. 2004).
For our part, we don't think that the priority, and indeed exclusive, objective for "international" extension within the company is the most appropriate. Non only since it can participate to enclose workers within corporatism, but also because, today, the practical realization, the concrete organisation and the control of this kind of extension can't but escape from workers' hands. How Brussels workers could have organised by themselves and control the extension to the german, spanish and portuguese VW factories ? The unions and the leftists aren't mistaken when they become the apostles of this kind of extension. The real extension, the one which requires and enables the direct workers' control of their struggle, is the one which firstly looks for solidarity and starting struggle of the workers of the surrounding working places, it means in priority at the geographical level, the one which precisely breaks with any corporatism...
It's exactly the choice the OPEL workers were confronted to in October 2004 when the city of Bochum lived massive demonstrations of the workers population of other companies while the leftists and the rank and file unionists were calling for the strike extension to the OPEL factory of... Sweden.
P.S. The translation of this leaflet has been made by the comrades of the Communist Workers' Organisation, British affliliate of the IBRP, who sent it to us. They also publish it in Revolutionary Perspectives 41 which has just come out.
On 17th November, the Volkswagen management announced the transfer of Golf production from Brussels to the Mosel and Wolfsburg factories. Because of this, 4 000 jobs in Brussels were in danger. Thousands more, in suppliers like Meritor and Johnson Control, and also at VW-Pamplona (Spain) and VW-Palmela (Portugal), were threatened. In view of this declaration of war by the VW management, our Brussels comrades did the only thing there was to do: Without waiting for any union pronouncements, they spontaneously went on strike and occupied the works. The important approach roads were blockaded and plant security and civil police were thrown out of the workers’ assemblies. Since this, our comrades have been in struggle for their jobs and thus stand in the front line against the bosses’ accelerating international attacks on our living conditions.
As usual, the bourgeois media are doing all they can to discredit our comrades’ struggle and to depict it as a desperate rebellion against a totally inevitable fate. This makes it even more important to inform workplaces, schools, universities and cities about the strike, to produce solidarity and to strengthen our comrades’ resolve. The attack on our comrades in Brussels is an attack on us all. Therefore, their struggle is our struggle too!
The notice that production at the Brussels factory is to be “restructured” is just the start of a “health programme” which was announced by the Volkswagen management a long time ago. Each location is to be systematically played off against the others and the entire workforce of a plant blackmailed in order to push through wage reductions, lengthening of working time and redundancies. Today, the concluded contract negotiations for German VW plants, with their provisions for increases in working time and slimming down of wages, are being used to attack our Brussels comrades. Tomorrow, there will be a similar shady deal which will be used to talk around comrades in other places. This auction, in which the lowest bid wins, and which is organised by the unions, the works’ councils and company management in a tried and trusted unity is a downwards spiral into misery. It is obvious, that the intrigues of a globally operating concern like VW can only be met with an international strategy. Instead of union co-management, an internationally organised defensive struggle of all employees is necessary.
The politics of the unions and works’ councils are opposed to this perspective. Nowadays, they do all they can to prevent a real movement of struggle. Their talk of negotiations and social compensation shows that they have long accepted the bosses’ idea of what constitutes an iron necessity. Despite all kinds of rhetoric and their many sermons, their “concern” is always for the “national” interest and not our comrades. Their logic is, in the final analysis, always the logic of profit and exploitation. False friends are often the worst enemies. Anyone who lets themselves be “represented” by such colleagues has already lost. Instead of continuing to be stuck in the rut of the politics of being represented by the union, it is necessary to take the struggle into our own hands and to unite across borders. The struggle against the dismantling of jobs and the theft of wages demands a break with all ideologies which want to “reconcile” the interests of the workers with those of the bourgeoisie, or want to subordinate the former to the latter. It is irrelevant whether this is done in the name of the “nation”, “social partnership” or “economic reason”. Capitalism worldwide has nothing more to offer us except even more exploitation, even more misery and war. Only outside and against the nationally narrow-minded frame of reference of the unions, on the basis of proletarian self-organisation and an internationalist socialist perspective will it be possible to prepare an end to this system.
For the state- and classless society!
Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen (December 2006)
Internal Fraction of ICC - Communist Bulletin (Nš 38)