The transformation of Germany’s automotive industry is in full swing. The key issues are a) transnationalization accompanied by increased competition and relocations, b) the next competitive and profit-driven boost of rationalization (including Industry 4.0), c) the digitalization of mobility, and d) the necessary ecological modernization through a shift to electric vehicles. Each of these aspects is associated with pressure on collective bargaining agreements, wages, and working conditions, growing demands and work intensification, not to mention employment insecurity and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.
Mario Candeias is the director of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Institute for Critical Social Analysis in Berlin.
If the corporations have their way, it is unlikely that the interests of workers will be defended or the environment and climate sufficiently protected. Germany needs independent and more far-reaching concepts and practices for a real and just mobility transition and a social-ecological restructuring of the associated industries. This can only be achieved together with workers and trade unions from different sectors, along with the environmental and climate movement, the social and political Left, and critical scholars. This fact isn’t new, but the time has come to make it a reality.
As part of a long-ranging study on the prospects for a green mobility transition, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation talked to workers, trade unions, works councils, and activists in the environmentalist movement, sat down, and crunched the numbers. Doubling the number of passengers in public transport, rail, and bicycle traffic would create up to 214,000 additional jobs. If we combine that with a 30-hour week, even more new jobs are possible. What all this means is that we’re not just talking about a few extra jobs, but rather about expanding employment in a core area of the German industrial sector.
The volume of studies on which the summary policy paper is based was published by VSA: Verlag in January 2022. Only a German-language version is available, which can be ordered here.