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GM’s Brazil auto workers launch 24-hour strike

Newly built GM cars sit in a shipping lot near Oshawa, Ont. in this file photo. A meeting between the company’s Brazilian unit and its union on Wednesday will coincide with a day of global action against GM in six countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Germany and the United States, according to the union.


Thousands of auto workers launched a 24-hour strike at General Motors Co.'s Brazilian unit Tuesday on the eve of crunch talks to avert 1,598 planned layoffs, their union said.

The Metalworkers' union said the action by nearly 4,500 workers at the GM facility in the industrial city of Sao Jose dos Campos, 80 kilometres from Sao Paulo, aimed to pressure the federal government into preventing the job cuts scheduled to take effect Saturday.

The union wants President Dilma Rousseff to step in to stop the layoffs at a struggling production line at GM's sprawling complex, which has eight plants and employs 7,500 workers.

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It said the workers also blocked traffic on a road outside the plant with burned tires and unfurled banners during the demonstration, including one urging Ms. Rousseff to "ban the layoffs at GM."

A GM spokesman told AFP that the U.S. auto maker would not comment on Tuesday's developments, saying only that "the negotiations with the union will resume Wednesday."

Last Friday, the two sides met but failed to find common ground, with the union accusing GM of continued intransigence.

But a GM spokesman at the time reported "some movement" during the four hours of bargaining talks.

He quoted Luiz Moan, GM's head of institutional relations, as saying the company was seeking "greater competitiveness" and believed a deal could be reached if the union "presents concrete measures" showing more flexibility.

Last August, GM and the union reached a deal to delay the layoffs until Jan. 26.

The union has estimated that the layoffs would translate into a total loss of around 15,000 jobs in Sao Jose dos Campos.

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A union statement meanwhile reiterated that Wednesday's meeting would coincide with a day of global action against GM in six countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Germany and the United States.

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