AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Thursday 24 January 2013
Last update 25 January 2013 6:02 am
SAO PAULO: Brazilian auto workers yesterday voted to begin an indefinite strike next week if upcoming talks with General Motors fail to produce a deal to avert 1,600 planned job cuts, their union said.
The two sides agreed in talks Wednesday to resume negotiations Saturday.
Last August, the US carmaker and the Metalworkers' Union reached a deal to delay the layoffs at the struggling GM production line in Sao Jose dos Campos, near Sao Paulo, until Jan. 26 — now just two days away.
"If there is no deal with GM, the company and also (Brazilian) President Dilma (Rousseff) will bear responsibility for the layoffs," union President Antonio Ferreira de Barros said.
A GM spokesman said the company would not comment on the strike threat at the facility, which has eight plants and employs 7,500 workers.
"GM is not in crisis," the union leader added. The "president cannot just watch this serious situation and not act.
"We are going to insist that the federal government take a stand in support of the workers and that the layoffs be banned."
The union pointed out that GM is benefiting from government tax incentives.
In Wednesday's meeting, the union said that it made new proposals to resolve the issue and said that, for the first time, GM agreed to reconsider the job cuts.
"We want investments in the plant, and the deal we are proposing would make that possible," said union Secretary General Luiz Carlos Prates.
Last week, Luiz Moan, GM's head of institutional relations said the company was seeking "greater competitiveness" and believed a deal could be reached if the union "presents concrete measures" showing more flexibility.
The union has estimated that the layoffs would translate into a total loss of around 15,000 jobs in Sao Jose dos Campos, an industrial city home to more than 600,000 people.