Opinion and Analysis: Economy | Labor and Workers' Control
Letter from the Workers of the Automobile Industry to President Nicolas Maduro
Union representatives of car assembly workers request President Nicolas Maduro to reconsider aspects of the new law regulating vehicle sales, and suggest changes to Venezuela’s automobile industry to spur national auto production.
The workers of [Venezuela’s] vehicle assembly companies and auto parts factories are worried and have been discussing the current situation of the [national] automobile industry.
This year we’ve seen how the levels of production in the factories in which we work have not become stable. The bosses mention problems in the assignation of foreign currency [for imports of parts and technology]. If this is true and the cause is due to the existing flow of foreign currency in the country, we believe that the state should immediately stop plans to import vehicles and revise with the workers the possibility of substituting this with national production. This would preserve the foreign currency to instead cover the needs of the nation and other manufacturing activities which contribute to Gross National Product.
The Law Regulating the Purchase and Sale of New and Used Motor Vehicles has put the national discussion over high vehicle prices to the fore. We workers celebrate that the state protects the population from usury and speculation, and that it strengthens the battle against the excesses of capital and the transnational companies with a legal framework that puts sales irregularities in order.
Because of this we reject the circles of opinion which, from the same speculative sectors, have blamed high prices on automobile workers and their unions.
Day by day we automobile workers experience numerous difficulties in order to produce, and while the bosses accuse us of irresponsibility, they maintain jobs which have caused illness to more than 50% of the labour force, many with two or three pathologies. This is the main cause of the absences of which they complain.
Today automobile companies are beginning to respond to the new law by lowering production, and threatening to eliminate shifts and models under production. Further, in contract negotiations such as in Ford the employer’s representation is threatening to leave the table if this law is promulgated, as could likewise happen in General Motors and MMC (Mitsubishi) in the next few weeks.
We believe that the legislature, despite its good faith to legislate in favour of the Bolivarian people, by not taking the opinion of automobile workers into account, was not able to evaluate certain risks in situations that could emerge at the time of applying the Law Regulating the Purchase and Sale of New and Used Motor Vehicles, in the law’s current form as approved in the National Assembly.
The risks have to do with the possibility that the bosses, the same ones that don’t dare to say what they think in public, decide not to continue producing in this country, causing the tragic toll that would be the loss of a huge amount of jobs due to the closure of companies. This would result in a terrible cost, including a political one of undesirable dimensions, in the actions of the workers and their social and family environment. It is estimated that the automobile industry employs more than 80,000 people, adding the direct posts to all the activity that vehicle assembly generates.
The workers of the automobile industry are demanding the unions that we mobilise and we’ve been discussing it. We want you, estimated colleague, worker president Nicolas Maduro, to listen to us and before applying this law, consider the possibility of opening up a discussing with us; [we] who have been in the fray of the revolutionary struggle, defending this process next to the giant Hugo Chavez and as a consequence of the order of the same Comandante, are following you, our first Chavista worker president.
We put all our knowledge at the service of the Bolivarian government to together discuss a National Plan to re-boost the development of our national auto industry. In little time we can assemble in our country en masse the production units needed to cover the needs of public transport and, next to that, we have projects to implement a fuel saving policy.
We workers propose that we be Worker Inspectors to guarantee that production goals established between the national government and companies are met, monitoring plans to progressively incorporate nationally-produced parts, and that prices established for vehicles assembled in Venezuela are respected.
Awaiting that you attend to us, our Colleague President Nicolas Maduro:
Signed by the unions of car assembly workers at Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota and over a dozen unions of auto parts companies including Good Year, Bridgestone Firestone, and Pirelli.
Translated by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com
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