Monday, 9 December 2013

I would not want to be working

in the car industry right now...well, I never wanted to work in the car industry but I would want to do it even less now. I think I would know that I would almost certainly not have a job for much longer.
Our car industry is dying. It is dying a slow, painful death and it is refusing to go quietly. It is still demanding regular transfusions of money to postpone the inevitable.
And there are still no plans being made to employ the thousands of people who will be without a job when the big men in Detroit finally turn off the machines because the power supply here (taxpayer money) has ceased.
I am angry about this. Successive governments have wasted billions of dollars keeping "our" car industry going. It was done under pressure from both the industry and the union movement. I blame all three, government, industry and unions, for the failure of the industry itself and the failure to plan for a future without it.
The car industry failed because the wrong sort of cars were being produced and it was too expensive to produce them - or indeed any - car here.
Like most other manufacturing which has gone off-shore people found it was cheaper to employ workers elsewhere. I don't approve of people being paid pittances elsewhere but the reality is that ours are paid more than we can afford. Our standard of living is simply higher than we can afford to maintain.
The problem however is what we now do. How do we employ thousands of people who simply have no other skills. One man has a job fitting car tyres to rims. It is a specific skill which is not likely to be needed in another industry. The same will be true of a man who sprays car doors or puts the seats in.
The area in this state which employs the bulk of people working in the car industry already has problems. Unemployment is very high there. The social welfare system already pours more resources in. The uncertainty as to the future is already causing family and community tensions, break ups and more. Other business is already suffering because of the uncertainties.
We need to diversify. We need to grow more trees and use them wisely. We need to manufacture the things that the 21st C needs - solar panels, electronic equipment and anything that is small scale and skilled. We also need to re-invent our wool industry. Instead of sending it almost all off shore to be processed (and then importing it again) we need to deal with it here. (We have one working wool scourer and there is a fight to keep it working.)
The Whirlwind wanted to know why people don't do those things. It is partly a lack of vision but it also has to do with "red tape" - the very real difficulties of trying to set up anything new and make it work. It has to do with an uncooperative union movement which has, until now, believed that all it would take to save the car industry is more taxpayer funds - and that they deserve that support.  
It also has to do with a lack of education and training. All students are being encouraged to believe that only some sorts of jobs are worth having. 
What we need is imagination and flexibility and a belief that all positive work contributes to a better society.
Right - rant ended. I am going to prowl off and do something useful.

1 comment:

virtualquilter said...

Cat,

I am sure that there are people out there who believe the street sweeper in the mall needs to have a masters degree in broom operation, instead of being a job for somebody studying to become a brain surgeon.

As for Holden ... our son owns his house and car ... and making plans for losing his job, though at this point not actively looking for another.