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VW Workers Fight Layoffs

By Workers Party of Belgium

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following article from the press service of the Workers Party of Belgium on the struggle of Belgian autoworkers. A massive protest is planned for Brussels, Dec. 2.

Readers interested in the struggle of U.S. autoworkers should check out our pamphlet of interviews and articles at:

Volkswagen (Brussels): 12,000 Families on the Streets?

Press Service of the Workers’ Party of Belgium


The Porsche family wants to sack 3700 blue-collar and 500 white-collar workers in VW-Forest (Brussels). Among with them, around 8000 wage-earners from the subcontracting factories nearby would also lose their jobs. In total, more than 12,000 families would be thrown on to the streets.

If the management’s decision to stop production of the Golf in Forest is maintained, that means a death sentence for VW-Forest. For if production of the Golf were stopped, the backbone of the factory would be broken.

The management and the big shareholders of VW are responsible for the near closure of VW-Forest. The new restructuring has been carried out on the orders of the Porsche family, VW’s largest shareholder

Throughout the group, thousands of workers have been sacked, while those who remain must submit to an infernal work pace, work longer for the same wages and be super-flexible.

The competition for the same market among the different automobile groups leads to overcapacity. The consequences in Belgium have been the closing of Renault-Vilvorde, the 3000 redundancies at Ford, the threat to 1000 jobs at GM-Antwerp and now VW-Forest.

The big parties in the North of the country have tried to put the responsibility for this social tragedy on the German trade unions. In Germany, 20,000 jobs have also been done away with. International solidarity among workers and unions is the only way to guarantee the preservation of jobs, through the sharing out of available work.

“The decision of the VW management can and must be withdrawn. The models must be reshared out and work redistributed over all the production sites. This is possible if the work pace is lowered throughout the VW group. And if work is redistributed through the diminution of working time with no loss of wages. It’s also reasonable if you realise that VW made a 1,2 billion euro profit in the nine first months of 2006. The downward spiral can’t be accepted when profits like that are being made.,” declared Raoul Hedebouw, Workers Party of Belgium spokesman.

The Belgian government has given tens of thousands of euros to Volkswagen in the name of jobs. In the form, among others, of lowered employers’ social security contributions and reductions in taxes on shift and night work. VW has also benefited from a land transfer from the STIB (Société des Transports Intercommunaux Bruxellois – Brussels public transport system) for the creation of a completely new Automotive Park. If the VW management and the Porsche family refuse to discuss a redistribution of work, measures must be taken.

“The state has invested a lot in VW-Forest. That can’t be destroyed by a private group. The WPB is of the opinion that in the case of a refusal by the VW management to go back on its decision, all the money and all the investments made in the name of jobs must be completely refunded. So that these means can be used for what they were intended for: preserving jobs,” concluded Raoul Hedebouw.

The Workers Party of Belgium supports the actions of the workers and unions of VW-Forest and the subcontractors in their determination to prevent the closure of the firm. The WPB appeals for national and international solidarity to support the workers of Forest in their resistance.

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