The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on February 11.
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Labor and Liberals protecting profits not jobs
Retool the car industry for public transport vehicles and renewable energy
Ford and Holden have recently announced hundreds more job cuts, which in turn put at risk the jobs of workers in the components industry. They argue that due to declining international confidence and consumer demand, workers in the industry should bear the risk and sacrifice while industry bosses and shareholders are protected.
When Ford and Toyota CEOs shamelessly put their hands out for more government subsidies to shore up their profits this was not in return for guarantees to save jobs. Yet the federal government was happy to pitch in. Federal manufacturing minister Kim Carr defended this, saying that the government gets a good bang for its buck. But car industry workers are being left high and dry.
While quibbling about details, both the Gillard Labor government and the Liberal-National opposition are determined to waste billions of dollars to directly subsidise the profits of General Motors Holden, Ford and Toyota while these corporations continue to cut more and more jobs.
Socialist Alliance says enough of this billion-dollar racket.
Mitsubishi extorted hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal subsidies right until it closed down its Australian operations in 2008, laying off 1700 workers. Holden, Ford and Toyota are playing the same dirty game.
These companies should be immediately nationalised and the industry retooled to manufacture public transport vehicles, electric cars and infrastructure for a rapid shift to renewable energy.
Workers in the car industry have the skills and expertise in logistics, production, engineering, designing for production and quality control that could be applied to help us break from a fossil fuel dependent economy. This is urgently needed to address the climate change crisis.
The industry can be retooled to produce wind turbines and other equipment for renewable energy production, as well as trams, trains and other vehicles and infrastructure for a sustainable transport system.
The trade union movement should not tail behind the bipartisan policy of subsidising car company profits. Instead it should demand the public’s money be invested protecting jobs and building a just and environmentally sustainable future.
Socialist Alliance says:
• End the corporate welfare, nationalise the car industry and retool it for the manufacture of public transport vehicles and infrastructure for a rapid shift to renewable energy and low carbon transport system.