General Motors has placed all of its Brazil-based employees on furlough and will halt production in the South American country before the end of the month.
The automaker said this week that it will “align production to market demands,” in Brazil and close its factories in the country. This will include the Rio Grande do Sul plant, which builds Brazil’s best-selling car, the Chevrolet Onix.
A source with the Brazillian worker’s union told Reuters that it wanted GM to place workers on furlough much sooner in order to protect them and help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The person also said they expect the shutdown to last from March 30 through to April 12 and that workers will be paid in full during that time, as per Brazilian labor law.
GM isn’t the only automaker with a major presence in Brazil that has elected to halt its local manufacturing operations there. Mercedes-Benz, which builds its Actros semi-truck in Brazil and is the heavy truck industry leader in the region, also placed its Brazil-based employees on furlough this week in preparation for an impending shutdown.
GM was also forced to suspend production at its U.S. manufacturing plants due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The automaker had originally planned to keep its U.S. facilities open and bring employees in on alternating shifts, but agreed to close plants following pressure from the UAW. The shutdown will last until at least March 30, at which point GM will evaluate reopening the plants on a week-to-week basis.
The automaker said its North American production is expected to stop in cadence in order to facilitate “a safe and orderly” shutdown, with manufacturing leadership handing down specific instructions for each of its U.S. facilities.
As of this writing, there have been a total of 244,427 confirmed cases of coronavirus, while another 87,407 have been resolved. A total of 10,009 people have died as a result of the illness.