Back in 1968 I was working for the BHP in Newcastle NSW, and remember the ironworkers going on strike for more pay. Their cars were lined up outside the gates of the steelworks. Big, long, shiny new cars, quite different from the $2,000 Toyota Corolla my wife and I had just bought with help from her father.
I didn’t quite understand why the workers were striking for higher wages when they had better cars than I. I suppose I hadn’t grasped the concepts of consumer debt and bankruptcy then. Or that a huge car might be the peak of dreams.
Today I still have a problem understanding the complaints. I know that Unions still work to improve the conditions of the Poor Labourers, but I haven’t had a medical and dental and vacation plan since about 1985. That went along with the territory of work-insecurity while being a self-employed consultant.
Now a car plant is planning to shift jobs to Mexico, of all places, where labour costs are so much cheaper.
And why not? When Canadian workers prices themselves out of a job, the job will go to a lower bidder. After all, as long as the fender gets bolted onto the chassis correctly, what doers the car care?
In the clipping above the unions blame NAFTA for their problems, which is another way of saying that NAFTA reduces the incidence of blackmail.
I note too that “GM told the affected workers” and that “the plant employs 2,800 Unifor workers”. Note that this does not say or mean that 2,800 workers will lose their jobs, only that those affected, out of a total of 2,800, will lose their jobs.
Unless, of course, they move to Mexico.
I’m told that the winters are milder down there.
The remaining 2,175 workers at the plant have effectively been put on notice ...