13 September, 2012More than 60 delegates of the IndustriALL Automotive Working Group met in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, on 11-13 September. In an industry slowly recovering from the crisis, organizing, global framework agreements, precarious work, and trade union rights violations are key issues.
During two days of intensive work, the participants discussed the whole range of issues. The presentations started with the exposition of trade union networks and global framework agreements. Afterwards, works councils were discussed. This issue proved to be controversial: while in some countries like Germany works councils are an effective legal instrument extending the power of unions, in others companies tend to use works councils as an administration-controlled alternative to the unionization of the plant. Representatives of the Russian unions were especially concerned.
Participants from the US, Turkey, and Russia mentioned serious trade union rights violations in their countries, from intimidation and one-on-one meetings of the management with employees at Nissan in the US to the difficult situation at Renault in Turkey. IndustriALL is fully committed to provide international solidarity in such cases. And the opportunity to do so immediately showed up – delegates from Brazil and Germany took part in the Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA) picket action in front of Vlankas plant in Kolpino near Saint-Petersburg. Vlankas is a GM supplier and a strongly anti-union company: ITUA activists at the plant were sent on forced vacation with subsequent dismissal.
In another concrete gesture of solidarity, all the participants adopted and signed a resolution addressed to the PKC Group president Matti Hyytäien regarding the anti-union practices at PKC facilities in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
The participants from Brazil, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Belgium, USA, Russia, Australia, Finland, South Korea, and Turkey focused on the situation in the auto sector in their respective countries. Two presentations provided key insight into the future of the automotive industry on a global scale. Christian Brunkhorst from IG Metall explained the long-term shift in demand from Europe to the developing countries, and Dr. Jürgen Dispan examined the effects of electric drive trains and hybrid cars on employment.