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Going South - Another Take on Auto Workers’ Jobs

8 January 2009

One aspect of the Canadian Auto Workers’ struggle that hasn’t received much press coverage recently is that redundancies may be caused by jobs moving south. A recent article in Toronto Metro (12/Dec/ 2008) mentioned that since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1992, companies seeking to increase profits and remain competitive have flocked to Mexico. These include Kellogs, Samsung, and Bombardier. Eighteen industrial parks in Queretero, Mexico, are now filled with big name, global, companies, including auto parts manufacturer, Arvin Meritor, which is closing down a shock absorber plant in Toronto and laying-off five hundred workers. The Mexican workers will be payed $2/hour, $16 less than their Canadian counterparts.

Bombardier has two massive hangar-like buildings in Queretero Aerospace Park. According to Real Gervais, Bombardier’s V.P. in charge of the Canadian company’s Mexican operations, “Canadians know the beaches of Mexico. They don’t know the capabilities of Mexico.” One may safely assume that five hundred Canadians know very well.

Locals 112 and 673 of The Canadian Auto Workers’ Union, which represents Bombardier’s workers, have launched a made-in-Canada campaign that highlights Bombardier’s benefiting from public investment but has nevertheless moved work outside Canada. Gervais says the company had to keep up with its competitors who have interests in countries with cheap labour. It’s pointless to say that these companies should be patriotic and stay in Canada. The profit oriented and competitive nature of capitalist production compel them to keep costs, such as labour, as low as possible. The only time capitalists speak of patriotism is when they exhort workers to buy their ‘home grown’ products and when they urge them to fight for their interests in wars.

Some may search for long-term solutions to the problem of jobs going south. There is one solution that would end the turmoil and insecurity of relying on the whims of capital and profitability for good - the establishment of socialism.

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