The press conference marked a new stage in the conspiracy between trade unions, large corporations, and the pro-business federal and provincial governments against workers and corporations. This conspiracy is not simply the result of Dias’ disdain for auto workers, though there is much to be done. It is the logical result of the reactionary Canadian nationalist and corporatist stance of the unions that Canadian auto workers and their bosses share interests and have to compete for “investments” with their class brothers and sisters in the US and Mexico. and “product”.
Dias could hardly hold back his enthusiasm for the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars in public money being given to the giant automaker for free and with virtually no commitment. “We’re all rowing in the same direction,” he crowed at the event. The President of Unifor also praised Trudeau and Ontario’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Doug Ford, who until recently boasted of his affinity and support for Donald Trump.
The “same direction” that Dias is referring to is to ensure that the Canadian company receives enough free public funding to remain “competitive” in the world market and thereby continue to attract investors. This requires workers in the automotive sector and in all other manufacturing sectors to be converted into poorly paid, precariously employed employees of the large corporation. Ford will use the money it receives from both federal and provincial governments to continue its lavish payouts to its wealthy shareholders as it restructures its manufacturing facilities by expanding low-wage labor and turning employment standards and workers’ rights upside down.
Dias remained silent at the press conference on these restructuring plans, knowing that they will be viewed with hostility by auto workers and broad sections of the working class at large.In the recently ratified three-year contract with Ford Canada, Dias and his colleagues at Unifor went a long way towards creating such conditions. A retirement plan will cut jobs at the Oakville facility by over 10 percent in a year, while the hated tiered pay system continues and expands. Various agreed incentives to encourage more experienced workers to leave make it clear that, before the factory retrofit in 2024, Unifor will be pushing to get rid of as many higher-paid workers as possible so that Ford can hire new employees at much lower wages to produce the first electric vehicles End of 2025 or 2026.
Unifor also agreed to flood the plant with third-tier temporary workers (TPT) and introduce a new alternate work schedule that destroys hard-won principles around the eight-hour day and pays overtime. Dias knew full well that these lazy concessions would be so unpopular that he kept them under wraps until the Ford workers had voted on the deal.
Unifor, together with its predecessor the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), has always justified its conviction in relation to the interests of the large company with the fact that this is necessary to defend jobs. Dias unveiled the Ford deal last month and spoke ardently about the new investments in Oakville, which he claimed would give auto workers the opportunity to “buy a home” and “raise a family.”
But Unifor’s nationalism and corporatism have not saved a single job. Instead, it has facilitated the sawing of jobs, wages and benefits across national borders, pitting Canadian, American and Mexican workers against each other in a race to the bottom.
The job cuts will continue under the Ford deal, which Dias has so highly praised. An accompanying letter from Ford Canada states that Oakville will create “up to 3,000 jobs” when electric vehicle production reaches full capacity in 2028. In other words, well under 3,000 workers can work in an establishment that has more than 5,000 employed less than two years ago and where 3,400 people currently work. In addition, as indicated in the contractual terms agreed by Unifor, these jobs will be significantly inferior in terms of both pay and working conditions to those that were secured by bitter struggles by auto workers in the 20th century.Dias’ disgusting performance as a business seller on Thursday is affecting workers in every sector of the economy. In conditions where the super-rich are richer than ever, Dias and the entire union bureaucracy are stepping up their bureaucracy efforts, thanks to the hundreds of billions of dollars the Trudeau administration gave to the banks and financial markets at the start of the pandemic and protect the well-being of Canadian businesses in all sectors of the economy as conditions deteriorate dramatically for all workers.
At an October 1 press conference held jointly with the Air Canada Pilots Association and the Airline Pilots Association, Unifor called for “immediate and direct financial relief” to be made available to airlines of $ 7 billion. Undeterred by the fact that Canadian airlines have put more than 30,000 workers out of work since the pandemic began, the unions complained in a press release that could be co-written by the executives of Air Canada and WestJet: “(T) he harsh reality is that airlines operate extremely capital-intensive, with high cash burn rates and the requirement to maintain liquidity to maintain equipment, routes and personnel. “In an article published by CBC, the Airline Pilots Association bragged about how it convinced its members at WestJet to accept a 50 percent wage cut disguised as necessary to save jobs.
The emergence of the unions as open advocates of defending corporate interests against the workers they represent has been a long process. During the 2008-09 financial crisis, the CAW worked with the Conservative federal and Liberal governments of Ontario to secure a multi-billion dollar auto industry bailout from a devastating attack on auto workers.
Over the past five years, the union bureaucracy has forged unprecedented close working relationships with Trudeau’s liberal government. This has reached a new stage during the pandemic as the unions issued joint statements with corporate lobby groups to justify the resumption of work campaign to ensure Canada’s “global competitiveness” during the “economic boom”. This cooperation is based on the systematic suppression by the trade unions of any resistance among workers to being forced to return to unsafe and dangerous jobs.
Auto workers must turn down Dias’ shillings for the Canadian company with the contempt it deserves. The only way to defend all auto jobs and ensure decent wages and safe working conditions is to unite Canadian, American and Mexican workers in an international counter-offensive to break the impact of corporate profits on all aspects of economic and social life. The first step in such a struggle must be a decisive political and organizational break with Unifor and its nationalist and corporatist perspective, and the establishment of independent simple committees in each plant to fight for the demands of auto workers.