Mass strike prevents layoffs

September 09, 2006

By Isabel Infanta, Fracción Trotskista-Cuarta

In the industrial heart of Brazil, the "ABC paulista"*, metallurgical
workers in the Volkswagen (VW) Anchieta factory, the biggest producer
of cars in Brazil, are confronting a harsh restructuring plan by the
bosses, who seek to fire 3,600 of the 12,400 workers and eliminate
workers’ rights, to improve their "competitiveness" and attract
investments. This voracious German firm threatens to close the plant
and lay off more than 6,000 employees if the workers refuse to accept
the harmful plan.

Faced with the threat of a closure, Lula decided to suspend a loan of
497,000,000 reais [$230,492,753 US] for VW until negotiations
end. . . .

On Tuesday, August 29, the firm distributed 1,800 layoff telegrams,
provoking an immediate reaction from around 10,000 workers who,
meeting in assembly, decided to begin a strike of indefinite
duration. The production lines were paralyzed, and in spite of the
attempt by the union bureaucracy to soften the strike, the workers
promoted a total shutdown. The conflict reverberated in other plants,
awakening the solidarity of their comrades and even impacting the
delivery of parts for production, which forced the bosses to give
time off in the other plants, thereby multiplying the effect of the

On Monday, September 4, the firm decided to withdraw the 1,800
layoffs, achieving a truce with the workers until Tuesday, September
12, when another workers’ assembly will take place. Although it is
clear that the withdrawal of the layoffs does not mean the bosses
will give up the restructuring plan, the firm had to retreat before
the determination of the workers, who are now faced with a
complicated situation about the future negotiations, between the
perspective of toughening up the means of struggle and that of having
to postpone the essence of the plan . . .

*ABC paulista is an industrial region formed by 7 municipalities of
the São Paulo Metropolitan Region: Santo André (A); São Bernardo do
Campo (B); São Caetano do Sul (C); Diadema (D); Mauá ; Ribeirão Pires
and Rio Grande da Serra.