July 26, 2004: Third Information on the Struggle at DaimlerChrysler in Germany

In the night from July 22 to July 23, 2004, the DaimlerChrysler bosses, the all-German works council leadership as well as the leadership of the Metal Workers Union conducted negotiations in which they reached an agreement in the dispute about the extension of working hours, wage cuts and cuts in additional payments at DaimlyChrysler in Germany. Until the very end the DC top management insisted on its maximum demands and tried to push them through by means of blackmailing and reprisals, before it backed down in essential points. It did not succeed in enforcing the provocative demands for the general introduction of the 40-hour workweek and the massive cuts in additional shift payments. The general collective agreement has been maintained.

This is the result of the corporation-wide struggle, of the readiness of the workers to fight and allow no splitting, of an overwhelming class solidarity from other enterprises, branches and the population, of the organizing and uniting effect of the workers' newspaper "Stoßstange", which is produced by colleagues from DC plants all over Germany, and of a relationship of trust between the DC workforce and the MLPD that is becoming even closer. The attack that at first was launched only against the workforce of the DC plant in Sindelfingen met with the militant action of the entire workforce of the corporation. With the day of action on July 15 involving more than 60,000 strikers, with growing independent militant activities, the workers made it clear that they are prepared for a trial of strength.

But before the full fighting strength was brought to bear a settlement was reached - for fear of the possibility that the independent initiative of the workers, their cooperation with the MLPD and the way of the working-class offensive could gain ground. The reformist trade union leadership was afraid of an intensification of the class conflict. The result was a foul compromise which among other things lays down that up to 20,000 employees in research and development are to work 40 hours canceling at the same time additional wages for overtime. At the so-called location services ((e.g. canteen) additional collective agreements should be concluded providing for lower wage levels when taking on new employees. The trainees are taken on after completing training, but with the program of DC Move all trainees and temporary workers are turned into modern migrant workers, the trainees for 3 years.

The newspaper Rote Fahne (Red Flag) writes: The two corporation-wide days of struggle at Siemens (on June 18, 2004 with 25,000 workers and employees) and at DC indicate a new phenomenon: they signify a shift in the balance of power between the reformist and the revolutionary influence on the thinking, feeling and acting of the labor movement in Germany. The class-conscious core of the industrial workers has more or less consciously adopted positions of the MLPD and dissociated itself from the illusion of class collaboration." (Issue 30/2004 from July 23, 2004) It is a new phenomenon for the working class to wage a corporation-wide struggle. Not only the immediate concern of the company or department, but the general interest has to be the center of attention. This requires a high level of class consciousness  of the workers, which has to be developed only step by step.

One of the most important conclusions of the 7th Party Congress of the MLPD held in spring 2004 was the introduction of the corporation-wide cooperation of our factory party groups as conclusion from the reorganization of the international production. The corporation-wide cooperation is the result of the fact that the international monopolies are operating at the corporation level and that they can be combated effectively only by the workforce of the entire corporation.

The labor movement in Germany has gained in strength in this conflict. What matters now is the necessity to assimilate this experience and to win many colleagues for an active collaboration on the corporation-wide workers' newspaper "Stoßstange", for engaging themselves in a militant trade-union work and joining the revolutionary workers' party MLPD.  Forward with the working-class offensive!

The impressive international solidarity has considerably contributed to the strengthening of the fighting power. Many thanks for the outstanding initiative from various countries and the support in solidarity of various workers' and people's organizations! International solidarity messages sent to the MLPD have been translated and passed on to the colleagues of DaimlerChrysler. They have also been documented in the Internet in www.rf-news.de, where every day, and temporarily even every hour, the most important news and correspondences are published.

An international supermonopoly like DaimlerChrysler has to be opposed by a corresponding class front beyond country borders! They outcome of such class conflicts as those at DaimlerChrysler will be decided in future to such an extent to which the realization of the coordination and development of the struggles of the workforce on company level, and even beyond country borders, will succeed. In such a way the international workers' unity is developing in the struggle against splitting and blackmailing. Equal pay for equal work worldwide! For the 6-hour workday with full wage compensation internationally! The automobile workers are part of an international integrated production system with about 100 million industrial workers. United they are an invincible power. This is an important school for the struggle for a world without exploitation and oppression, for the unite socialist states of the world!

Workers of all countries, unite!

Concerning the evaluation of the struggle and the conclusion to be drawn from it we are documenting the following editorial of the workers' newspaper "Stoßstange" from July 25, 2004, from and for DaimlerChrysler workers and in which the MLPD collaborates.

A Struggle Pointing the Way Forward- the Working-Class Movement has been Strengthened

Since Friday the mood of the workers and employees has been an emotional roller coaster. Can they be satisfied with the result, what has the struggle brought, how should it go on? Not everything is just quite clear. They are proud of the struggle and, at the same time, critical of the result. How does this all fit together? The workers' newspaper "Stoßstange" (bumper) declares its position.

1. DC, together with Siemens, VW etc., is leading the way for abolishing the 35-hour workweek and introducing the 40-hour workweek. DC is a top monopoly in the state monopoly capitalism of the FRG. For this reason, this struggle was a signal in the whole of Germany from the start. The blackmailing with relocation by maintaining that production in other places would be cheaper got the right answer: Whoever wants to blackmail us will get a strike in returnThey did not succeed in introducing the 40-hour workweek as regular working hours in Sindelfingen! This success cannot be assessed too highly.

2. The struggle of the workers, employees and trainees was successful, because the attack was hit back in the whole corporate group, even though only Sindelfingen was attacked at the beginning. With the day of action on July 15, which was demanded and supported by the independent initiative of the workers and employees and in which 60,000 strikers participated, and with growing independent and militant activities we have demonstrated: We are ready for a trial of strength. Our struggle developed dynamically, we took the liberty of staging repeated walkouts as well as public rallies, of organizing road blockades and a fork-lift truck convoys etc.

3. The class solidarity from other enterprises, branches and the population was overwhelming. The struggle of the workforce of DC became a model for the common struggle. With our struggle we have led the labor movement in Germany on the road to the transition to the working-class offensive on a broad front.

4. But in order to fight out the trial of strength it would have been necessary to set off an independent mass strike. If we had staged a real strike, the board would have had to give up! In that case we would have been strong enough to get rid of the horror catalogue. Now Schrempp was just able to get through his concrete goal of saving 500 million Euros - distributed on many shoulders and stretched over several years. The DC bosses were afraid of losing the trial of strength.

5. But also the reformist trade union leadership feared this necessary intensification of the class conflict. It even sometimes took ruthless action against workers in order to stifle every independent initiative. At the rallies, speeches from the rank and file and delegations from other enterprises were prevented. It thereby also had in mind to stop the obviously growing mass influence of the MLPD and of the independent company newspaper "Stoßstange".  This way the discussion about the question whether the Metal Workers Union should be a fighting organization for all metal workers or a factor upholding order against undesirable developments of the class struggle of the workers and employees has reached its climax.

6. Tens of thousands of people were active, thousands of them took the initiative independently: they produced posters, conducted meetings in the company departments, informed each other, demonstrated, gave donations for the "Stoßstange". Nationwide and even international solidarity was overwhelming. However, why did the necessary independent strike not take place?

In the end, many colleagues shrank back from actively opposing an agreement on a foul compromise for which the works council leadership had signaled its readiness very early, even though the overwhelming majority of the workers and employees were in favor of the struggle. The direction was good, but the new concept could not yet assert itself. There was mainly a lack of sufficient force, self-confidence and experience at this decisive moment for organizing and staging an independent strike in the entire corporate group, despite all legal restrictions and reservations and, if necessary, even against the will of the works council leadership.

However, there were many positive elements which have to be developed further in any case. The "Stoßstange" has become the mouthpiece of the struggle on the corporate-wide level; however, it is not yet being distributed at all locations, gates and shifts. Cooperation has increased rapidly, but there are by far not enough editorial staffs in the factories, workshops, shifts, training workshops, offices of all locations etc. We need hundreds of such confidentially working editorial staffs, where only the respective collaborators know each other, and which nevertheless as a whole form a functioning system on corporate level. We also need many regular donations to ensure that the newspaper really reaches every colleague.

The MLPD, which considers itself to be the party of the working class for the organization of the class struggle, had presented the proposal to fight in the entire corporate group in agreement with active and militant trade unionists timely. Its comrades actively contributed to the development of militant activities. It has also contributed to make the "Stoßstange" an organ of the militant workers in the struggle at all locations,  appearing nearly every day with current reports. Rote Fahne News - www.rf-news.de - was the Internet news service which reported the latest news round the clock and has become a reliable means of communication between the locations. Last but not least, the MLPD informed more than 200 organizations all over the world about the struggle at DC in Germany and asked for solidarity. It is in the very interest of the labor movement to strengthen the MLPD.

In the struggle of the Daimler workforce the spirit has become evident that the trade unions have to be fighting organizations for the improvement and preservation of the wage and working conditions. Criticism of the reformist works council and trade union leadership is justified and necessary. However, it must be directed towards strengthening the trade unions. Every weakening of the trade unions weakens the fighting power of the labor movement. Democracy within the trade unions must urgently be improved. That means that thorough information, time for reflection and then the decision of workforce on the means, methods and results of the struggle would have been the right way.

7. No one can possibly believe that peace and quietness will prevail in the coming seven years until 2012. The battle of annihilation in the automobile branch will be intensifying; entire groups of companies are going to disappear. VW plant vacations had hardly begun when company leader Pieschetsrieder demanded a 30  percent decline in wage costs. Minister president Wulf (Christian Democratic Party) demands the introduction of the 40-hour workweek without wage compensation. DC management will also be forced for economic reasons to start new attacks against us. They can only be  hit back in struggle. With Hartz IV not only hundreds of thousands of the families of the unemployed will be plunged into misery. The federal government is extending the low-wage sector, introducing forced labor in order to drastically lower the wage level.

8. The corporation-wide struggle has set new standards. The working class movement in Germany has gained strength. Whoever struggles gets broad solidarity. The class solidarity of the workers is stronger than the entire camp of the managers and government combined. We have learned. Today we must not only struggle corporation-wide within one country, we must combine our forces internationally beyond national borders. It was great to see how solidarity arose with South Africa and Brazil. The connections between the plants must be consolidated. Worldwide connections to South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, China, etc. must be built up more intensively.

9. It is absurd how SPD politicians and trade union leaders are building up the foul compromise as a pilot project for other enterprises. Go on counting your chickens before they hatch. The fact that DC backed down on their original horror catalogue is alone due to the fact that we led a struggle. The colleagues at VW, Opel, MAN, etc. have very well taken note of this. If they go on struggle, they can count with our solidarity.

10. The DC workforce itself has made today’s best contribution to preserving jobs by struggling successfully for preserving the 35-hour workweek with full wage compensation. This defensive is strong; however, whoever wants to win must go on the offensive. The most effective measure against mass unemployment is the 30-hour workweek with full wage compensation as regular working hours from Monday till Friday.  In the face of rising labor productivity and stagnating markets, labor must be radically redistributed at the cost of profits.

On with the working class offensive!

Literature

Literaturtipp An ever increasing number of local and regional ecological catastrophes plague humanity. They are symptoms of an environmental crisis which is in the process of transforming at an accelerated pace into a global environmental catastrophe. New Publication: CATASTROPHE ALERT! What Is To Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature?

Read More…