The strike at General Motors’ Sao Jose dos Campos plant in Brazil came to an end on Thursday, February 26th. Production stood still for six days, ending when GM halted plans to lay off 800 employees at the facility. The conflict is latest labor stalemate between an automaker and its workers in the South American country whose auto industry has seen sharp declines over the past 24 months.
The stalemate was resolved after the metalworkers union of Sao Jose dos Campos re-elected its leadership by a three-to-one majority. The re-elected administration has a reputation for being unyielding in negotiations and in criticizing Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, ascribing its win to these qualities. The competing party, meanwhile, is known for close ties to the party in office. The victory of the winning party highlights the attraction in more confrontational union tactics that are becoming more popular across the country.
The longest strike GM has faced in the last 12 years is the result of GM’s proposal to furlough around 800 workers for two months before laying them off in April. The interruption will not be deducted from workers’ wages and GM promised not to retaliate against workers who walked off the line.
GM’s compromise with the new union leadership involved agreeing to furlough 650 workers for five months while guaranteeing that they will get their jobs back at the plant, which is located roughly 90 km (55 miles) outside Sao Paulo. Over the last three years, GM has cut its staff at the factory from about 7,500 workers in 2012 to about 5,200 currently.
GM isn’t the only one to face recent labor disruptions in Brazil, as local operations of Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz also experienced labor disruptions.