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26. October 2008

Wave of strikes and agreements in the Brazilian auto industry

Workers at major auto industry plants in Brazil went on strike during September in support of their demands for improved pay

BRAZIL:  On September 1, workers at the Volkswagen-Audi factory in the city of Curitiba began a one-week strike. Workers at the Volvo and Renault/Nissan plants in the same town also went on strike on the same day.

During that week 24-hour strikes occurred at Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Mercedes Benz and Scania in cities in the interior of Sao Paulo state.

The first workers to reach an agreement were those at Volvo, on 4 September and Renault/Nissan, on 5 September. The unions accepted a 2.66 per cent real increase in pay plus 7.15 per cent in line with the increase in the National Consumer Price Index (INPC) over the last twelve months, making a total pay rise of 10 per cent. They also negotiated a one-off payment of R$ 1,500 (about US$863).

Meanwhile, the dispute continued at VW-Audi in Curitiba where workers demanded a 12 per cent pay rise. On September 9, workers ended the strike after accepting an 11 per cent pay rise starting in November (3.6 per cent real increase plus 7.15 per cent in-line with inflation). Workers also negotiated a one-off payment of R$ 2,000 (about US$ 1,150).

The strikes forced the companies to improve their offers, which were initially very low. The increase in real wages in addition to the inflation-linked pay rise, together with the one-off payments, represent a major victory for metalworkers. "This is why we say it is worth putting up a fight. Now we are going to get ready for the next round of pay negotiations, for auto parts in October and metalworking and machinery in December," said Sergio Butka, President of the Curitiba Metalworkers' Union and of Força Sindical in Paraná state.

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