COMMENT: Bochum union factionism a voice from the past
What are Opel's 3,000 odd workers at its Bochum plant in the heavily-industrialised region of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) thinking today?
They've had a good 48h to mull Detroit's decision to axe Zafira production at Bochum and move it instead to Russelsheim from 2015 - a 48h in which some - but not all it seems - may be regretting their decision after voting 'nein' to Opel's productivity offer.
The vote against was overwhelming apparently and stands in stark contrast to Opel's other German sites, where a compromise has been reached, a middle way based on the sobering reality of the manufacturer's situation in Europe at the moment.
The deal would have seen a pay freeze at Bochum in exchange for continued Zafira production until 2016 with some potential for component manufacture too.
The proposal was tough - even GM Europe recently told just-auto: "Bochum had the hardest cuts and we have to be honest with that," but the automaker hinted at internal difficulties with its follow-up comment: "We think IG Metall thinks there was a good solution."
If Opel believes the union leadership at Bochum was broadly in favour of the deal, just what happened to make Bochum stubbornly resist any compromise and so doggedly vote against?
GM's Dudenhofen, Russelsheim and Kaiserslauten plants voted with large majorities in favour of Opel's reorganisation plan, so what went wrong at Bochum?
Well placed union sources in Germany have constantly hinted to me there has been internal division within the fraternal ranks at Bochum and now Opel has wielded the axe, those factions are bubbling to the surface.
Much along the lines of the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) in France and FIOM in Italy, it seems organised labour in Bochum has within its ranks a militant tendency that has broken cover and decided to confront Opel head on.
"It can be a little revolution to have a great fight against Opel," my source told me from Germany. "They hope in their way to have a spectacular situation so there can be another result.
"In Bochum [there is] a tradition of members of [the] Works Council, they have factions, extreme factions, a whole history of 12 or more factions who fight against each other."
Maybe Opel sensed the inherent tension at senior union level and decided to call the labour body's bluff.
With over-capacity top of many automakers' agendas, labour's intransigence at Bochum, or at least the more radical wing of it, has conveniently allowed Opel to axe the plant citing union resistance.
Bochum's not alone of course. I've been variously told by sources in France and Italy, the CGT and FIOM are 'Trotskyists' and 'Communists,' as they stick to ancient principles despite more moderate elements holding the majority view.
Well, here's a third moniker for Bochum's hardliners, to make a handy little triumvirate of the hard-left club given to me by my German source: "Marxist-Leninists," which pretty much completes the set.
"We say there is a Marxist-Leninist group there," said the German source. "It is not really great [large], but it is loud.
"In every discussion, they are first and it is not what the people really mean."
Those shouting loudly - there's a very similar situation currently taking place at PSA Peugeot Citroen's Aulany plant near Paris with the CGT literally using megaphones to bombard anyone passing by who cares - or even doesn't - to listen to its pleas to save Aulnay - are always heard first. FIOM has made equally loud noises in Italy.
But those 3,000 people in Bochum will be wondering this weekend what the jobs future holds. The town was hit hard by Nokia's decision to downsize and even in prosperous Germany, work is not so easy to come by.
Continuing the hard left theme, apparently, during the forced collectivisation of farms in Soviet times, it was deemed correct Leninist dogma to accept all machinery was pooled and repaired in one vast area.
Subsequent revisionist tweaking - due to the system's chronic inefficiency - led this policy to be reversed and trumpeted as another example of Leninist thinking - with no-one - publicly at least - noting the abrupt about change.
Such doublethink seems to be alive and kicking in Bochum. Where would Marx or indeed Lenin stand on apparent factions sabotaging future employment for the sake of political ideology?