• Brazilian Autoworker’s Fight against Lay-Offs Escalates

    Ongoing coverage from our special correspondent in Brazil, Steve Payne

    Things continued to heat up in the Brazilian automobile industry following a 13,000 worker strike at Volkswagen in São Bernardo, Brazil. VW workers walked off the job on Tuesday, January 6th to protest the layoff of 2,100 workers.

    The next day, thousands of workers at Mercedes went on a 24 hour strike to protest the layoff of 244 workers. Mercedes called to resume negotiations during the strike.

    Photo credits: Adonis Guerra

    On Thursday, January 8th, VW workers held a mass meeting and voted to continue their strike. Votes to continue strikes are a traditional tactic utilized by Brazilian labor unions, particularly the metalworkers.

     At a mass meeting the next day, January 9th, VW workers in a neighboring city, São Carlos, pledged their support for the São Bernardo workers.

    Then on the morning of Monday, the 12th, nearly 20,000 autoworkers took to the streets, marching on and occupying Anchieta Highway, a major thoroughfare connecting São Bernardo to the Port of Santos, Latin America’s largest port.

    Photo Credits: Metalurgicos ABC

    Workers at Ford occupied the highway in front of their factory to show solidarity with VW and Mercedes workers.

     They then joined the march down Anchieta Highway.

    Photos credit: Metalurgicos ABC

    São Bernado is part of the famous ABC industrial region in the suburbs of São Paulo, named after the three major cities of Santo Andre, São Bernado do Campo (where the autoworker’s strikes are taking place), and São Caetano do Sul.

    With a heavy concentration of Brazilian industry, in particular the automobile industry, the ABC region was the epicenter of worker struggle against the Brazilian dictatorship, which came to an end in 1985. The leftist trade union confederation CUT and the Workers Party, which is now in power in Brazil, were partially formed in the region in the late 1970’s as part of a popular movement for democracy both in politics and in the workplace.

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