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Latin American unions condemn the rise of precarious work at General Motors

20 August, 2019On 13 August, workers from General Motors plants across Latin America met in São Paulo, Brazil, to discuss and take action against workforce casualization within the firm.

General Motors (GM) unions from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia came together to discuss the situation of their workers. GM, which produces cars, trucks and engines, is currently restructuring its activities at various plants and has undermined employees' rights in the process.

At the start of the year, GM leaders issued a memo threatening to shut down operations in South America unless they could find ways to return to profit, even though sales were on the rise.

Workers at the meeting said that GM is not in the midst of any kind of sales or production crisis. Instead, it decided to restructure as part of its strategic objective to turn in higher profits than its competitors.

GM is also looking to generate working capital in order to create new, innovative products such as electric and self-driving cars. One way the firm is looking to do this is by cutting labour costs, resulting in more precarious working conditions.

At the meeting, participants made a solidarity pact and agreed to take united action against the workforce casualization taking place at GM as a result of the restructuring, which has also pitted the plants against one another.

They also said that workers had a right to be kept informed about what GM had planned for its various Mercosur plants. They stood ready to negotiate but would ensure that workers’ rights were safeguarded and strengthened in the process.

They also agreed to work towards collective bargaining and said that they would not negotiate on points that would worsen their working conditions. And if GM did not agree to engage in a dialogue with the unions, they would organize a day of action and campaigning.

Finally, IndustriALL Global Union's regional secretary, Marino Vani, said:

"The meeting was great. We have started working as a network of General Motors employees, which is one of IndustriALL’s priorities. The unions were very well represented in the discussions.

IndustriALL and the unions will invite GM and other global affiliates to take part in the ongoing dialogue and in regional negotiations. This will enable us to set out the workers’ needs and demands so that together we can find solutions and reach minimum agreements that safeguard workers' interests."