General Motors Hunger Striker to Starve
DETROIT Colombian General Motors worker, Jorge Parra, who is president of an association of workers who developed devastating injuries while working for GM, is likely to die in Detroit within the next few days. General Motors despite stating publicly that they are interested in resolving the situation, have failed to meet the workers' demand that GM return to negotiations. Parra has been on hunger strike since November 20th. His health has deteriorated rapidly over the last month, due to the fact that this is the third hunger strike the workers have launched since August 1st, when they shocked the world by stitching their lips shut with a needle and thread.
The workers have been forced to go to such extremes because of the situation they have been trapped in since they were illegally dismissed from General Motors. Having developed disabling injuries from the wear and tear of the antiquated assembly line on their bodies, these workers were dismissed and left without a salary, compensation, a way to pay for the medical treatment they needed, or a way to feed their families. When these men, who range in age from their mid-20s to their early 40s, applied for other jobs, they found that they could not pass the medical examination which was required before being hired. Unable to work and unable to survive without working, these workers have seen their families enduring hunger for months at a time, have lost their homes to foreclosure, and have seen that their only option is to get GM to respond for its mistakes.
GM is going to have a public relations nightmare should Parra starve to death because of their refusal to respond to the situation. That is particularly true because GM has already acknowledged that these workers have legitimate grievances, evidenced by their willingness to enter into negotiations with these workers in August. These negotiations proved far too short to resolve the situation, with GM's top offer not even being enough to cover the cost of the surgeries that many of these workers need.
With the North American International Auto Show starting in Detroit in less than a month, it seems like a particularly bad time for General Motors to let an injured worker starve without even trying to resolve the situation. Already activists from many parts of the country are making plans to go to Detroit to make a big scene at the auto show which starts January 14th. In the past, GM has had the ever present opportunity to right its wrongs, with Parra's impending death, they are approaching a point of no return. If Parra dies, this is going to dirty the name of their brand for years to come.
Visits to dealerships are being planned around the country for Saturday, Dec. 22nd. This is just the beginning of what could easily grow to the scale of the public outcry against Wal Mart and the big banks. General Motors has an ever shrinking window of opportunity to do the right thing, before their problems multiply.