[OPE-L] Prol-Position-News #2

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sun May 22 2005 - 14:37:52 EDT

From: antoniamautempo@gmx.net

Prol-Position-News #2 out now!

 You can download the newsletter as a printable pdf-file from
 www.prol-position.net (about 330 kB).

 The contents of this issue:

Going East: Investments in Eastern Europe
Investments in the Czech Republic: Boom or Fall?
Migrant Workers in the Czech Republic
Strike at Skoda Auto, Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic
Migration, Industry and Struggles in Poland
More Strikes in Poland
Romania after the Transition
Strike at Michelin (Zalau, Romania)
Interview on Solectron (Timisoara, Romania)
Wildcat-Preface: Beverly Silver, 'Forces of Labor'
Strike at ThyssenKrupp in Terni, Italy
Striking Olive Harvest Workers in Spain
Chat on the Olive Harvest Strike in Spain
A new kind of Strikes in France (CitroŽn etc.)
More on the CitroŽn strike
France: Leafl et on 35h-Week
Leaflet on hotel workers' strike (Accor, France)
Students' Struggles All Over
Update: Car-Industry

Please circulate this e-mail to others!


 This issue's main focus is on the class situation in countries in Eastern
 Europe. The movement of capital and the labor force from the East to the
 West and vice versa is a decisive element of class re-composition in
 Europe. Mobilizing a large reserve army of workers from Eastern Europe
 to supply certain sectors in the West and threatening to re-locate
 production from Western Europe to the East serve as important levers in
 intensifying exploitation. The ominous image of 'low wage regions in
 Eastern Europe' and 'low wage workers' is partly capitalist propaganda;
 the real picture is much more complicated.
 Eastern European workers are often hired in sectors of the western labor
 market (like agriculture and cleaning) where 'local' workers don't work. In
 early April 2005 German agricultural employers loudly objected to
 government plans pressuring more German unemployed into working in
 the fields, instead of hiring Polish contract workers. They complained
 about the German unemployed 'arriving too late to work, leaving too
 early, and taking sick leave after two days'. At the same time, more
 workers from
 eastern Germany are migrating to the Netherlands to find work in
 greenhouses. Regarding re-location of production units, the actual re-
locations to the East are few compared to new investments in the West
itself. Direct investments of western companies mainly consists of
 buying the formerly state-owned infrastructure or companies in the East,
 like telecommunications. Other investments are undertaken to supply
 local markets, meaning that they will not replace production capacities in
 the West. To unmask the propaganda element in the 'Go East'-hype, we
 need to organise a deeper inquiry into the actual movements of capital
 and the class confrontations in Eastern Europe countries. In this
 newsletter you will find some texts that might serve as a starting point:
 The article Going East summarizes statistical material on the relation
 between direct investments and the shifts in production by German
 companies. It concludes that setting-up production units in the East
 rarely results in closing sections of the same company in the West.
 Apart from supplying local markets, the bosses are aiming for a situation
 where they can, with maximum flexibility, play-off certain production sites
 against each other. Foreign Investments in the Czech Republic: Boom or
 Fall analyzes the re-structuring process of capital and the labor market
 during the last decade, the impact of this restructuring on the Czech
 Republic as one of the main regions for direct foreign investments in the
 former Eastern Bloc, and the threat by capital to move on further east.
 Migrant workers in the Czech Republic sheds light on the situation of
 Slovakian, Polish and Ukrainian workers in the Czech Republic. The
 article shows how the European labor market extends far beyond the
 borders of the EU, setting-off chain reactions of work migration. Czech
 building workers working in the West, for instance, are replaced by
 Ukrainians slaving away in Czech cities, having to put up with the Czech
 state's migration policies and the mafia-like structure of Ukrainian temp
 agencies. Skoda Auto: Inspiration from Mlada Boleslav? is an article
 about the recent strike at Skoda in the Czech Republic. It argues that
 although it was the biggest struggle at Skoda so far, the workers - under
 the union's control - didn't really use their power to win. But the
 situation at Skoda and in other companies might change: Some of the
 new plants western companies have set up in the Czech Republic can't
 find enough workers in the region, undermining the lay-off threat. These
 new plants are often not unionized, leading the authors to conclude that
 there is "some possibility for an autonomous struggle in which any
 union structures would be left behind. We shall see where this
 inspiration from Skoda will lead...".
 Behind the Border - Poland describes the history of class struggle in
 Poland since the 70s, the role of financial policies and state repression,
 the context of workers' struggles, and the collapse of the socialist regime
 of exploitation. It also deals with the structure of the Polish agrarian
 industrial sectors today and the question of migration. Attached to this
 text is an update on recent struggles in and around Poland.
Promised Land and Class Struggle: Romania after the Transition
 examines the development of capital and migration in Romania. The main
 focus is on the textile industry, pointing out the important role of
 companies in the restructuring process. We added a short interview with
 a worker from Solectron in Timisoara. Solectron is a US-company
 producing mobile phones and other electronic equipment for companies
 like Nokia, Ericsson and Alcatel. Then follows some news on a recent
 strike in Romania (Michelin) and Solectron in France.
After the texts on the class struggle in Eastern Europe, you find the
preface of Beverly Silver's book 'Forces of Labor' written by 'Wildcat'
 people who recently published the book in Germany. Silver investigated
 the last 130 years of workers' struggles on a worldwide scale, using a
 database she and her collegues have built up. "The book's particular
 strength is telling the (hi)story from the perspective of workers in
 struggle (...) 'Forces of Labor' elaborates on the connection between
 struggles from below and their effects on ruling class actions and,
 therefore, capitalism's development as a world system. Workers'
 struggles chase capital around the globe and from one industrial product
 to the next. And with every new cycle of hegemonic power, pressure
 from below had more impact on the shape of the world order." We
 publish this preface because we think this book can help us in
 understanding the world-historical development of struggles as well as
 the course and outcome of certain workers' struggles we want to
 investigate or take part in ourselves.
Some more reports on struggles follow: The first is a report on the strike
 at the ThyssenKrupp steelmill in Terni, Italy based on several interviews
 with workers. There was a strike early last year after the German
 multinational ThyssenKrupp had threatened to close down a certain
 section of production in Terni/Italy and shift it to other plants
 ThyssenKrupp backed down - just to re-announce the closure a few
 months later. Again, the workers went on strike but without success.
 The tale of Striking Day Laborers in the Spanish Olive Harvest gives an
 overview on the structure of the Spanish agro-industrial sector and its
 (migrant) work force, describing the three main front lines on which
 capital attacks: the changes in unemployment benefit for seasonal
 workers, the new migration law, and the increasing mechanization. These
 front lines also defined the reality in a small village near Cordoba/Jaen,
 where day workers struck for a month in winter of 2005. We added a Chat
 on the Olive Harvest Strike. The article A new kind of Strikes in France
 tries to draw a line between the restructuring of the (car-)industry, the
 effects on wages and work conditions and the new kinds of strikes that
 make "visible a new offensive attitude against the conditions of
 exploitation". The strike at CitroŽn, Aulnay (near Paris), serves as the
 main example. More on CitroŽn is another (shorter) comment on the
 CitroŽn strike, sent to us by a comrade who has a slightly different
 viewpoint on that strike.
The leaflet on the 35-hours law in France focuses on the French
 government's late 90s so-called Aubry-law which was praised by the
 European left as a job creating miracle. The reforms of the right-wing
 government today are interpreted as a break with the 'workers friendly'
 legal achievements of the left. The leaflet describes how the much-
praised law of the leftist government minister Aubry was a big leap
 forward to further flexibilisation in working time and a reduction in real
 wages and that the right-wing government today is only continuing on a
 path already been paved by the previous left one.
 The leaflet for Faty, ex-striker at Accor, France, is a call for practical
 international solidarity with striking workers at the French hotel chain.
 We want to support this initiative because it tries to overcome 'national'
 and language boundaries. However, we added some critical comments on
 the campaign's main focus.
We have also summarized some reports from various students' protests
in different parts of Europe (France, Italy, Germany, Slovakia) over the
 last few months. The violent attacks against the students' demonstration
 in Paris by kids from the suburbs raise political questions concerning not
 only schools and the youth movement, but the whole class situation in
 large urban areas with entrenched high unemployment and a parallel
 economy. For an update on the situation and strikes in the car industry
 in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Italy we took material from
 several (leftist and non-leftist) newspapers. The struggle at Dršxlmaier in
 Bremen/Germany is yet another example of the industrial power post-
Fordism puts in workers' hands. Dršxlmeier is one of the main German
 direct investors in Romania and other Eastern European countries. The
 (wildcat) strikes at Skoda in the Czech Republic, CitroŽn in France (see
 the other articles in this newsletter) and the spontaneous protests at Fiat
 Mirafiori in Italy contrast with the silence surrounding the Rover car
 factory's closure in Britain.

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