Bombardier economy in turmoil

Necessity for a new pro-social outlook and direction for the economy | K.C. ADAMS

2012.04.21.TorontoDOAAgainstCutsSigns-48CR5For the second time in two years, Bombardier has announced massive cuts to its workforce. In 2016, the global oligopoly fired 7,000 workers; this time another 5,000 workers will be dismissed: 2,500 workers in Quebec, another 500 in Ontario and 2,000 elsewhere with Belfast in the north of Ireland the most probable target.

Reductions in a workforce of thousands of workers mean that a substantial segment of Bombardier’s economy will be liquidated. The company is entirely abandoning its commercial jet production despite receiving billions of dollars in state pay-the-rich subsidies.[1] Secret manoeuvrings and furious competition amongst sections of the global financial oligarchy in commercial jet production, in particular between Boeing and Airbus, have intensified the crisis at Bombardier.

In 2017, Boeing used the power of the U.S. state to block the sale in the United States of Bombardier’s C-series mid-sized airliner.[2] In full retreat, Bombardier gave 51 per cent of the C-series operation to Airbus for free. What will become of the remaining production facilities in Canada when fully in the hands of Airbus was not addressed in the Bombardier press release or subsequent statements. In Bombardier’s November 8 press release announcing the cuts and sell-off, company president Alain Bellemare stated, “With today’s announcements, we are implementing the next steps needed to realize the full value of Bombardier’s portfolio. […] I am very proud of what we have accomplished so far.” Bellemare’s annual salary with bonuses is $13 million. Olivier Marcil, Bombardier’s Vice President for External Relations, referred to the sell-off as a “productivity initiative.”

Bombardier is also selling off its Q Series (previously known as the Dash 8) turboprop aircraft program, which means the only aircraft production remaining will be luxury private and business airplanes. It also announced the sale of its aircraft flight and technical training unit to another global monopoly called CAE without any indication of the fate of those now working in the segment.

Aside from production of business jets, Bombardier will continue its airplane servicing agreements and the manufacturing of trains. However, the train sector as well is under serious threat from other global oligopolies and their powerful state representatives and the falling rate of profit arising from increased productivity from the use of advanced scientific technique and its automated production systems.

The situation reveals that the billions of dollars in recent Quebec and federal pay-the-rich handouts to Bombardier were not meant to maintain production of commercial airliners under the control of Bombardier and in Canada but to ensure the servicing of its $9 billion debt held by the financial oligarchy. Owners of Bombardier debt annually expropriate around $1 billion in interest profit from its various sectors. The proceeds from asset stripping will likewise go to the big moneylenders.

Ontario and Quebec manufacturing has been under pressure and in decline for well over ten years. The consistent downsizing of Bombardier manufacturing along with the brazen lockout of 1,030 ABI aluminum workers in Becancour Quebec and the broad U.S. state attacks on Canadian aluminium and steel production through tariffs have exposed a consistent pattern. The global oligarchs are sidelining Quebec and Ontario manufacturing and reducing Canada within the global imperialist economy to sources of raw material, services, various forms of financial parasitism, speculation and retailing in the largest metropolises, moneylending and subsequent interest payments from private and state debt. The result is further concentration in fewer private hands of the social wealth and power of the socialized means of production and circulation in Canada and throughout the world. This regressive phenomenon is intensifying the contradiction between the socialized productive forces and their private control causing nation-wrecking and destruction of what the oligarchs cannot control, more intense violent competition, wars and war preparations, greater economic crises and widespread social problems. The global financial oligarchy has disempowered the people and reduced the social wealth at the disposal of the vast majority of people and their societies.

The crisis in the Bombardier economy and the insecurity it brings to thousands of workers, their communities and local economies highlight the necessity for a new direction for the economy. What this new direction may be is the social responsibility and project of the working people to clarify and bring into being through their own organized efforts, actions with analysis and practical politics.

A new direction requires a new outlook that puts as the aim of the economy not the narrow private interests of the financial oligarchs but the needs and well-being of the people. The well-being of the people and Mother Earth can be realized when working people reorganize the socialized economy in conformity with its interconnected and scientific character and its actual and potential social product. The modern outlook demands the end of all forms of exploitation of humans by humans, the humanizing of the social and natural environment, the constant enhancement of the general interests of society, and peaceful and cooperative arrangements for mutual benefit amongst the peoples of the world.

A pro-social outlook views the world as it presents itself and what is required to meet the expectations of the people and their desire for empowerment, peace, security and a future for themselves, their families, society and fellow humanity around the world. The challenge is to organize the advanced social consciousness and the overwhelming numbers of the working people into modern independent institutions and social forms of their own making and conscious control so as to deprive the global oligarchs of their power over the socialized economy and politics of the country.

Notes

1. In 2015, Bombardier received massive bailouts using public monies from Quebeckers totalling $3.3 billion. It received $1.3 billion dollars from the Quebec government for its C Series aircraft program, for which the government received a 49.5 per cent stake in a limited partnership that gave it control of the program’s assets, liabilities and obligations. Later that year, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, that manages several public and parapublic pension plans and insurance programs in Quebec, sank $2 billion into Bombardier’s rail transportation business. In 2017, the federal government gave Bombardier a $375-million “repayable loan.”

A scandal arose in 2017 about pay for Bombardier’s executives, which increased by nearly 50 per cent while it laid off thousands of workers and received these massive public subsidies. Meanwhile, stock options for Bombardier executives have returned them profits of $78 million dollars this year alone, according to figures provided by Michel Girard in the Journal de Montréal.

2. For further information on Bombardier see “Bombardier’s Attempt to Enter U.S. Airline Market: Boeing Aerospace Monopoly Uses U.S. State to Crush Its Competitor,” Workers’ Forum, October 5, 2017.

(Quotations translated from the original French by Workers’ Forum.)

Workers’ Forum, November 15, 2018

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