Matamoros strike threatens to shut down North American auto industry

21 January 2019

Read it here.

The strike by 70,000 auto parts workers in Matamoros, Mexico is beginning to affect production at US automobile assembly plants, raising the possibility that auto production across North America could be brought to a standstill.

US workers are reporting to the World Socialist Web Site that management is slowing production at General Motors and Ford assembly plants as a result of the strike. Production at Ford’s assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan will stop this week due to a shortage of parts caused by the walkout.

By courageously withholding their labor, the workers at 50 auto parts plants that have been struck in Matamoros, just south of Brownsville, Texas, could bring a major sector of the world economy to its knees.

The strike demonstrates the objective unity and class common interests of US, Canadian and Mexican workers. It is the answer of the working class to Donald Trump’s racist threat to build a wall between the US and Mexico and the nationalist poison spread by the United Auto Workers and Unifor unions to make American and Canadian autoworkers think that their enemies are their Mexican brothers and sisters, not the auto bosses and the capitalist profit system.

Matamoros workers are beginning to recognize their social strength. Yesterday, thousands of workers marched from their plants to the city plaza, chanting “Bourgeoisie, get out!” The strikers have issued a social media appeal for “all Mexican workers” to join them in a national general strike, which they are calling “A Day Without Workers.”

A section of yesterday’s mass demonstration marched behind the banner, “The union and company kill the working class.” Striking workers report that “everyone has read” the coverage on the World Socialist Web Site.


“The union and the company kill the working class”

There are indications the strike may spread. On Friday, the parts company Aptiv fired hundreds of workers in the border city of Reynosa for engaging in partial strikes demanding a 100 percent wage increase. The firings provoked outrage among the workers.

The eyes of a million maquiladora workers near the US-Mexico border—accounting for nearly two-thirds of Mexican exports—are on the struggle in Matamoros.

The strike shows that the international interconnectivity of the auto industry is a source of profound strength for workers everywhere. While the companies have used globalization to facilitate the hyper-exploitation of workers all over the world, the Matamoros strike demonstrates that workers at each center of production have the power to disrupt the whole machine of global for-profit production.

Tens of thousands of workers around the world are following the World Socialist Web Site’s coverage of the strike, and growing numbers are sending messages of support:

• A GM worker in Oshawa, Canada said: “The companies are trying to exploit all of these workers across the border. I’m sick of it! Canada, USA and Mexico do not deserve this. We are going to follow exactly what the Mexican workers are doing. Our union isn’t doing too much for us. You need to fight this fight, you need to win it. Keep your heads up.”

• A Romanian worker at Autoliv—one of the companies being struck in Mexico—told the WSWS: “The conditions in Mexico are an outrage. In Romania it is no good either. We work 12 hours for 20 euros a day. The unions are the same in Romania as in Mexico. They are little bosses. In Mexico and Romania we must get better, decent conditions.”

• A GM Silao worker in Guanajuato, Mexico agreed: “We have to do something similar here in Silao. This union is not worth anything.”

• An auto parts worker in Detroit, Michigan said: “I take heart that you are reaching across these illusory national borders to your working class brothers and sisters north of you and saying ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’ We must stand together as a united global force. We will not let US-based companies hurt Mexican workers in the name of capitalism. You are our fellow workers, you just happen to live in a different country.”

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