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16 December 2005
The trade union Amicus has signed the first ever solidarity pledge with four European unions, which will ensure that all GM workers across Europe act in unity to safeguard their pay and conditions of employment at General Motors, as the company plans to hold a beauty contest across its European operations for production of the new Astra.
The unions have formed a coordinating group, The Delta Group, to prevent General Motors Europe from exploiting workers and attacking established employment conditions and practices as they make sites across Europe fight for work on the new Astra.
Out of the five sites involved from the UK, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Belgium three will be chosen to complete work on the replacement model. It is likely that one of the two remaining sites will be forced to close.
The solidarity pledge will guarantee a number of minimum standards, agreed by the trade unions, which no plant will go below. In addition they agree to adopt a joint negotiating strategy and a common code of conduct vis-à-vis the management of the GM group, which will stop General Motors from selecting sites on the basis of who would take the biggest pay cut, who would increase their hours and who would give up much of their holiday entitlements.
UK union Amicus, Belgian union ABVV, German union IG Metall, Polish union Solidarnosc and Swedish union SIF have agreed to stand together against the company to protect all five sites and all the workers.
Tony Murphy, Amicus' National Officer for Auto Components, says:
"It was a simple decision to form the Delta group. We had no intention of allowing General Motors Europe to push us into a beauty contest to see who will give up the most in the hope of being awarded the next model at the expense of fellow workers in other countries. We have made a pledge to defend hard fought for pay and conditions and resist General Motors race to the bottom. "The Delta Group will assist us in our efforts to keep all sites open and minimise the impact on any individual site. This may entail a sharing of the pain rather than one country or plant taking the lot."
Derek Simpson Amicus General Secretary said:
"Amicus has been promoting the concept of international solidarity as the only answer to aggressive employer strategies aimed at creating unethical worker verses worker competition. We have worked hard at building bi-lateral links with our European and International colleagues in order to effectively deal with this kind of situation. As a result our members at Ellesmere Port now know that they will not have to sell their soul in order to keep their jobs and instead will stand shoulder to shoulder with their European Co-workers to guarantee a fair and trustful process of information and decision-making for the upcoming site selection process for Delta."
The Delta group contains the following General Motors sites, Ellesmere Port in the UK, Glawice in Poland, Bochum in Germany, Antwerp in Belgium and Trollhatton in Sweden.
7000 workers are employed by General Motors in the UK 4000 of which are based at the Ellesmere Port site in the North West.