World Bulletin/News Desk
Thousands of car manufacturers workers blocked major highways around Brazil's largest city on Monday to protest layoffs recently announced by two companies.
Employees from Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Ford -- all key employers in the industrial ABC region in Greater São Paulo -- took to the streets at different locations and brought key arterial routes to the city center to a standstill for hours.
Traffic police estimated the total number of protesters at around 10,000, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported. The demonstrations ended peacefully.
The demonstrations were sparked after carmakers announced 1,000 layoffs, causing a walkout by many employees that paralyzed plants’ operations.
Volkswagen announced Jan. 6 that some 800 staff would be made redundant. A day later, operations at Mercedes-Benz were paralyzed by a 24-hour strike after the company said it had laid off 244 employees.
Brazil-based car manufacturers have suffered recently due to a sharp downturn in demand from neighboring Argentina and the current poor economic climate in Brazil.
The government has attempted to boost sales and production by offering tax incentives.
Vehicle output slumped 15.3 percent nationally in 2014, according to Anfavea, Brazil's automobile manufacturers' association, although a modest 4.1 percent rise is predicted for 2015.
São Paulo's industrial ABC region, home to more than 2.5 million residents, is where car manufacturing first took hold in Brazil, and now also includes companies such as Toyota and General Motors. Volkswagen famously produced its local version of the Beetle -- known affectionately is Brazil as "Fusca" -- in the ABC region in 1953.
The region is also home to former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was president of a steel workers' union there before entering politics; he led strikes in the 1970s during Brazil's military dictatorship for which he was jailed.
Last Mod: 12 Ocak 2015, 21:09