GM has decided to shutdown production at the Silao complex, its largest in Mexico, because of a growing rebellion at the plant involving workers who are demanding a united fight with their class allies in the US. GM’s decision shows that striking workers in the US have support internationally—a huge source of strength which they can unleash only by breaking with the UAW and taking control of the strike themselves.
The 6,000 workers at Silao assemble a vast array of transmissions, engines and more than 400,000 pick-up trucks yearly—the highly profitable GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. Despite claiming the previous week that GM was “operating normally at all plants,” the company announced on September 26 that two shifts would be laid off from each area at the Silao complex this week. The company then decided Tuesday to shut down the entire plant until further notice. The company will pay some workers 55 percent of their salaries during this period while eliminating paid vacation days from others.
Center for Automotive Research Vice President Kristin Dziczeek told AP that “the closing of the Silao plant has created greater pressure on GM to end the strike.”
In other words, a united struggle of Mexican and American autoworkers could mark a serious challenge to the dictatorship of the corporation and the corrupt trade unions. This objective class unity explodes the lie put forward by politicians like billionaire Donald Trump who claim Mexicans are “rapists” and false claims by Trump, the Democrats and UAW that Mexican workers steal American jobs.
GM Mexico said in a press briefing: “We remain vigilant on the negotiations between General Motors Company and the union UAW (United Automobile Workers) in the United States to evaluate day by day our operations, hoping for the GM complex to resume work in the following days.”
The Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), which controls the trade union at the Silao complex, pathetically declared, “As an organization, we prefer this sort of arrangement instead of the firing of workers.” Tereso Medina Ramírez, the regional CTM chief, also took the position of management that “what we hope is that, in the United States, the [auto] companies settle this conflict as soon as possible.”
The statements of the company and the union are attempts to pit workers across borders against each other. That’s because all signs suggest that the decision to close Silao was aimed at preempting a simmering rebellion by workers who are already making appeals for a joint struggle with US strikers. Since the strike began, GM has fired at least seven workers who were opposing speedups and overtime in order not to weaken the strike of American workers.
Two-thirds of parts in the cars assembled in Mexico come from the US and Canada, with a significant share going through the distribution centers on strike in the US. Both GM and the UAW have cited a shortage of auto parts as the cause of the decision. However, neither explained the sudden change in calculations to shut down Silao while keeping plants in Ramos Arizpe, San Luis Potosí and Toluca open.
On Wednesday, EFE reported that Silao workers have denounced harassment and unjustified firings “as a consequence of backing US strikers.” The re-hiring of victimized workers, it adds, “is being considered in the demands of strikers in the United States, as well as access [by Mexican workers] to the distribution of economic resources from the [US] strike fund.”
The news agency then indicates that, upon contacting the company, GM Mexico “insisted that it was false that there have been unjustified firings and that the strike fund only applies for the UAW in the United States.”
These statements demonstrate that the company was following closely the activities of the militant group at Silao taking actions in support of the US strikers when it decided to shut down the plant.
According to workers at Silao in contact with the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, GM and its trade union had escalated the harassment and unjustified firings of the more outspoken workers and those with previous injuries to prepare for speed-ups and other measures in response to a potential strike in the United States.