Brazilian autoworkers strike, layoffs cancelled

The contracts between the United Auto Workers and Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles expire Sept. 15. Workers want to get back what the companies have taken away in recent contracts. Autoworkers in Brazil are showing other workers that it is possible to fight and win against a big multinational auto company.

There have been three successful strikes at GM, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz, all of which stopped permanent mass layoffs. A 12-day strike at the GM plant in São José dos Campos ended Aug. 24 when the company converted almost 800 permanent layoffs to temporary layoffs. The Taubaté Metalworkers’ Union struck Volkswagen Aug. 17 to protest 100 layoffs, 50 of which were put into effect immediately. The union ended the strike Aug. 28, when the company cancelled the layoffs and amended the contract to create a “voluntary redundancy” program and to discuss alternatives to layoffs with the union when future cuts are planned.

Most recently, Mercedes Benz was forced to cancel 1,500 dismissals after the São Bernardo Metalworkers’ Union struck on Aug. 24, ending the strike a week later when Mercedes agreed to keep the workers and guarantee job security for one year under an Economic Protection Plan.

“Without a fight, we do not ensure rights,” said National Confederation of Metalworkers (CNM/CUT) General Secretary João Cayres. “CUT metalworkers have, once again, made a demonstration of firmness, unity and class solidarity.” ( CUT is the United Workers Confederation of Brazil, which the unions in Taubaté and São Bernardo belong to. CNM/CUT is affiliated with the IndustriALL union, formerly the International Metalworkers Federation.

All three strikes received wide international solidarity. The way autoworkers around the world can win is by stopping production so the companies can’t make a profit by exploiting workers’ labor.