A Message to the Globalization & Future Jobs Conference in Australia

March 8, 1999


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A Message To The Globalization & Future Jobs Conference In Australia
A Message To The Globalization & Future Jobs Conference In Australia
dated March 8, 1999

The impact of globalization of the auto industry on labour to date has been minimal according to Canadian Auto Workers National President Buzz Hargrove.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW National President




The auto industry, although the ownership is going global, you see more of the Daimler Chrysler merger for example, Ford buying out Volvo, a number of these mergers are taking place but production is still regional. Where North America is a region, Asia is a region; of course Australia is off on its own. So the impact has been minimal in terms of the ability of our union or other unions to try and make progress. Globalization is in the broader context; it is a license for corporations to move their capital around the world as opposed to investing it in their home markets.
The big danger is of course is the ability of capital to move around the world uninhibited, as speculators who are moving in and out of economies and destroying economies. And of course that has an impact on everybody's economy and our ability to strengthen the programs of working people; if we are caught in this argument where the corporations are threatening to move a lot of production, if people don't weaken environmental laws for example or weaken labour legislation or social benefits. The real danger long term is that people buy into the argument as opposed to challenging the argument. I still think there are a lot of victories out there for the labour movement if we are will to challenge the status quo.

According to Hargrove unions will have to fight their battles on their home turf to protect jobs and workers rights.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW National President

We have to fight nationally. All of us have to fight nationally to defend the interests of our members, our families and the communities that we are in. Then we have to share that information. The sharing of information on what it takes to have a victory and also to share the information when we are defeated. People learn from mistakes that others have made.
But I am an optimist. I still believe that in spite of this, we've been through a period where government's of all political stripes have turned more power over to the corporations. I sense a shift out there, certainly in Canada, where people are saying they want more democratic control. They want more input over their lives.
The insecurity that the business community and right wing politicians promised would bring them security, short term insecurity-long term security, has proven to be false and I think there is real opportunities but you have to fight back.

The people in St. Catharines Ontario, in the middle of Canada's auto industrial area are fighting back. General Motors announced 1,100 jobs were being cut as part of a move to be more globally competitive. CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates says mobilizing public opinion against GM is essential in the fight to save the jobs.

Wayne Gates
CAW Local 1999 President

The one thing that General Motors doesn't like is bad press. And I think the one thing that has really helped us in this fight back is the fact the community, not only in St. Catharines but in the surrounding area, is all saying what you are doing is wrong. They are doing all the things that the corporation has asked them to do and that you owe it to them and you owe it to the community and Ontario to invest right here.

Gates says if profit is what motivates General Motors, then GM should be putting more work into Canada not taking it away.

Wayne Gates
CAW Local 1999 President

Estimates are they made 2 billion dollars in Canadian operations last year. That would work out to, I think they made 7.2 billion, to about 30 per cent of their profits are made in Canada with about five per cent of their workforce. If I'm a share holder and I care about my money I think I would be investing a lot more in Canada, because I know it's a cash cow, and they know they are going to get a good quality product, they know they have a highly skilled workforce. It makes no sense to take work out of Canada. I think Ford and Chrysler have done nothing but invest in the nineties in Canada. They know that the workmanship that is up here and General Motors has to do the same thing.

The fight to save the St Catharines jobs will be decided when the CAW and GM bargain a new contract this fall.

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."


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