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Unions approve agreement to save jobs at Volkswagen Brazil

21 September, 2020Unions at the four Volkswagen plants in Brazil have negotiated a collective agreement safeguarding jobs for five years, as well as setting out further investments and a voluntary layoff package.

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, workers at VW's plants in São Bernardo, Taubaté, Curituba and São Carlos voted in favour of a collective employment agreement that will protect their jobs for the next five years.

"The crisis at VW began several years ago and the pandemic has made things worse. We had to be realistic, given that production is set to be well below capacity. From the outset, our main aim was to protect our jobs,”

said Wagner Santana, president of the ABC union in São Bernardo, part of the national confederation of metal workers (CNM/CUT), affiliated to IndustriALL.

VW management had informed the four unions representing workers at the plants in Brazil that, due to the economic fallout from the pandemic, they intended to reduce the workforce by around 35 per cent by bringing in flexibility measures. That would equal 5,200 jobs, out of the total 15,000.

The unions spent four weeks negotiating alternatives to ensure that there were no job cuts and that the company remained competitive.

"Each plant is different, but union representatives managed to negotiate specific terms for each. It was important for the unions to work together so that they could reach an agreement, this can now serve as a reference for other unions,”

said Cláudio Batista, president of Sindmetau union in Taubaté, part of CNM/CUT.

The agreement includes a

  • voluntary layoff package
  • health-care package
  • pay freeze
  • new pay scale for workers joining in or after 2021

Sérgio Butka, president of SMC at Gran Curitiba, part of CNTM, affiliated to IndustriALL, added:

"Both parties used their common sense to come up with a proposal that will protect workers' jobs for the next five years. That means that they can keep working with peace of mind, and VW can look at ways to weather the storm that the country is currently going through."

The São Carlos and Ibaté metal workers' union, part of CNM/CUT, have also approved the agreement. Union president Vanderlei Strano called it a great achievement that would bring workers peace of mind.

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches, said:

"I'd like to congratulate the VW workers in Brazil and the four unions for working together. Securing jobs for five years and receiving financial guarantees is important not only for the 15,000 VW workers, but also for the thousands of people working in the supply chain.

The agreement is all the more important given that the Brazilian government is dismantling employment law and has no industrial relations policy – it's an inspiration for unions across Brazil and the world."