Faced with with over 1,000 redundancies, Brazilian GM workers walk off the job, and occupy the busiest highway route in the country. The bosses cave in, suspend their redundancy plans, and give the workers paid leave for their wildcat action.
Last week, 2,000 GM workers from the Brazilian Metalworkers Union, occupied, and took control of an important highway, and demanded a stop to 1,840 redundancies.
The road was blocked with burning tyres and banners, and at its peak, the traffic jam stretched back over ten miles. “The highway occupation led to political as well as economic pressure. The route that links Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro is more important to Brazil than any single highway route in the United States.
Within 5 days the bosses agreed to their demands, and following a workers assembly vote to accept the bosses offer, the lay-offs were suspended with immediate effect.
Following the blockade, the workers returned to the GM plant, and protested outside. Workers still in the plant have been regularly walking off the job for rallies at the factory gates.
It is clear that GM are rattled by the workers actions, as they have, ‘as an act of goodwill’, to change the wildcat walkout into a day’s paid leave.
It is believed that the initial 1,840 job losses are only a small part of a much bigger picture. GM plan to close the 7,200 worker plant, and shift production to less militant areas of the country – just as Ford did several years ago.
A union spokesperson said that:
“We won’t bow to the company’s attacks and to the irresponsibility of Mantega, who prefers to defend GM’s interests and to underestimate what it means to dismiss 2,000 workers.”