Tuesday, 5 May 2009

And So It Came To Pass...

...well, nearly. I posted this blog seven days ago, citing an American report in the NYT about the imminent collapse of Chrysler and the break-up of General Motors, following the June 1st restructuring deadline.

Seems it's all now happening (and very quickly, too). Chrysler has just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving many of its creditors livid - and threatening their businesses. And GM has just opened negotiations with international auto makers to sell off its global operations, as predicted, including (and especially) GM Europe.

This is not the end for Chrysler - quite. Legal permission was given today for a joint Canadian/US government $4.1Bn loan, protected from creditors by the terms of the agreement and paving the way for a takeover by Fiat, according to CNBC.

To cut a long story short, Fiat, as well as taking over Chrysler is now expected to buy GM's Vauxhall car plants in Britain, too, as part of a deal securing it majority ownership of GM Europe. I can tell you now that this is catastrophic news for the British carmaking industry. Fiat will have no inclination whatsoever to preserve what is, in effect, a duplicate company (of Opel). Job losses in the UK will be extremely heavy as Vauxhall car production (now about 380,000 a year) will be wound-down. Fiat chief, Sergio Marchionne, has already come out in support of German-based Opel. Interviewed in Bild today, he said:
We do not want to close the four Opel factories in Germany. I need the factories in the future, to build cars. But naturally, we need to decrease the size of the production firms. They need to be more efficient.
These 'efficiency' savings are likely to be found in Britain meaning another pillar of the British car industry is about to crumble, resulting in widespread knock-on company collapses and rising unemployment in the manufacturing sector. Fiat's vision is to build a European car company, so Marchionne claims, to rival the likes of Toyota.
We want to build a real European car company that will achieve worldwide success. We want to combine Fiat, Opel and Chrysler. If we achieve this we will be the second biggest car company behind Toyota and it will provide jobs not just in Germany, but around the world.
One thing is now completely certain, as US banks begin bulldozing repossessed homes rather than pay to maintain houses no one can afford to buy any more and the US car industry retreats and heads for hibernation, British manufacturing will be hardest hit. British jobs are once more on the line, unprotected by a Labour government under which British manufacturing overall has been declining for a decade. After the shameful Labour sponsored (the Red Aussie dominatrix Hewitt again) pre-election sell-off followed by the post-election liquidation of Rover, foreign owners are now only too willing to shed British jobs and shut down British plants rather than German or even American because they know, quite simply, that British workers are easier to fire and British manufacturing is always a spare wheel.

Labour governments are no friends of private workers or of non-state UK manufacturing. Don't let anyone remain fooled now that there has ever been any other reality.

One more Labour catastrophe for the next government to sort out.

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