by Raquel Varela, labour historian
In the summer of 2016, the US multinational Dura Automotive – a global supplier of automotive components operating in several countries – committed to deliver components to Chrysler, Audi, and BMW. Orders were on the rise and Dura was at risk of paying high fines if workers did not accept weekend overtime to fulfil orders.
The German workers at Dura Plettenberg decided that they would only do so if Dura accepted a collective agreement with IG Metall, the German metal workers’ union; the plant was threatened with relocation from Germany to Portugal and other countries, and a reduction from 1,000 to 700 jobs. Dura’s managers reacted with a radical form of dumping – they asked 260 Portuguese workers from Dura Carregado to go to Germany to work in July 2016. The trip was initially prevented by local pressure: German workers threatened to close down the factory. But in October 2016, after several negotiations, about 300 Portuguese workers arrived in Germany to produce the orders on Saturday and Sunday for almost 2 months.
Many workers received them with protests.IG Metall had in the meantime brought the case to court. The court declared an unprecedented sentence: the operation was legal because during the week Dura in Germany was German, and during the weekend it was Portuguese! In an interview, a Portuguese worker said that when they arrived the ambience was “tense” and the machines had been partially sabotaged by local workers.