Germany is presented as the manufacturing heart of the European Union. Its dependency on manufacturing and heavy industry is contrasted with Britain’s deindustrialisation as the reason why Germany is not facing the crisis engulfing most of the eurozone. That is changing, with the announcement in December of the closure of the Opel/GM plant in Bochum and the threatened loss of 3,200 jobs.
The psychological impact of this threat is that it is the first such proposed closure in recent German history. It singles out what is seen as one of the best union-organised industrial plants in Germany. It is not an accident but the throwing down of a gauntlet to German labour.
The fight is now on to save the threatened jobs and turn the 2016 closure date into a rout of the employers and German state backers. Already, lightning strikes, marches and rallies have occurred throughout the plant.
Workers are reminding the employer that when closure was proposed in 2004, the result was a European-wide Opel strike involving over 100,000 workers in nine countries and 15 locations, with factory occupations and blockades – not only in Europe but worldwide as Opel’s globalism was met by workers in plants in Brazil and Korea. German workers are clear: save the jobs and make Opel/GM profits pay. ■