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Union approves agreement to save jobs at Renault Brazil

13 August, 2020Members of the Curitiba metalworkers' union (SMC) voted to approve an agreement with Renault that will save jobs at the carmaker's plant, bringing an end to a 21-day strike.

Hundreds of SMC union members attended an assembly on 10 August to learn the details of the latest proposal negotiated with the company. On 10 and 11 August, they voted online, with 95 per cent of members approving the agreement that reinstates 747 workers who had been laid off.

SMC president Sérgio Butka said:

"It's been a fight for jobs and for our lives. The challenge over the next four years will be to keep the plant growing and generating jobs. We need to put the interests of the local population first.

This has been a new experience for us, since we had the backing of the employment authorities and the whole community as we sought to reach an agreement with Renault. We now need to get back to the plant, think positively and start forging a strong and healthy relationship with Renault. We all need to play our part."

The leaders of the SMC union, which is part of CNTM/FS, an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, said that the agreement also includes a four-year wage plan with profit-sharing and pay allowances.

As a result of the agreement, the union ended the strike that began on 22 July. Normal work will resume 12 August for all but the 747 reinstated workers, who will stay at home with full pay until the voluntary layoff plan ends on 20 August.

CNTM/FS president Miguel Torres said:

"This victory wouldn’t have been possible without the workers, the SMC union and Sergio Butka's leadership. This outcome once again shows how important it is for union members to be united. The union’s work has been fundamental for employees and the country and for creating more dignified industrial relations. I'd like to congratulate the Curitiba workers and Butka. Let’s bring jobs, income, rights and health to all."

The strike began when the company dismissed 747 workers, many of whom were on sick leave. In addition to the strike at the entrance to the plant, protests were held at Renault car dealerships in cities across Brazil.

IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches, wrote a letter expressing support for the workers and calling on Renault to fulfil its commitments under the global framework agreement (GFA) that it signed with IndustriALL in July 2019. Under that agreement, the company agreed to hold talks on all restructuring plans.

The SMC took Renault to the regional employment tribunal, which issued a document on 5 August mentioning the GFA between Renault and IndustriALL. The document also pointed out that the company had not complied with the terms of the commitment entered into with the Employment Ministry, in which it undertook to negotiate any layoff programme with the union. The tribunal therefore ruled that the dismissals were not valid and the workers should be reinstated.

Sanches welcomed the outcome of the negotiations:

"We congratulate the workers at Renault for their resilience and their solidarity with the dismissed workers. Their determination helped to ensure that the authorities ruled in favour of the workers and required Renault to return to the negotiating table. We are happy that our GFA helped to achieve this positive outcome. We will continue working to ensure that Renault doesn't undermine its workers and fulfils its local and global commitments."