Brazil: Metalworkers occupy Caoa Chery plant in protest against layoffs

By JOAO MONTEIRO

Approximately 200 workers occupied the car assembly plant of the Chinese company Caoa Chery, in the city of Jacareí, located in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, May 24, for approximately 1.5 hours, according to the São José dos Campos and Region Metalworkers Union.

The workers collectively decided that they would not accept the proposal to close the plant and lay off about 480 workers. The mobilization will continue. If the company insists on maintaining the announced measures, the workers promise to occupy the plant indefinitely. They demand that it be nationalized and put under the control of the workers themselves, who are the ones that actually produce the cars and keep the factory running, said Luiz Carlos Mancha, metalworker from São José dos Campos and one of the CSP Conlutas leaders.

Imperialist countries control car production in Brazil

The production of cars in Brazil is controlled by companies outside the country, like the North American Ford and General Motors, the German Volkswagen, the French Renault, and the Chinese Caoa Chery. These are companies controlled by big international capitalists, who overexploit the Brazilian workers, send the profits of the production to the headquarters in the imperialist countries and leave a trail of pollution and environmental destruction.

The owners of the big multinationals get a number of benefits from producing in countries like Brazil. First, the abundant cheap labor available, due to high unemployment rates, has produced a monthly minimum wage in Brazil of a meager $253. The minimum value per hour worked in Brazil is currently less than $1, against $7.25 in the United States. An average worker in Brazil receives a monthly salary between US $315 and US $730. This is well below the wages that capitalists pay to workers in the United States.

Labor contracts are increasingly precarious, the result of a series of ongoing capitalist reforms implemented by the Brazilian government, which is a local ally of these big companies.

The imperialist companies receive tax exemptions of billions of dollars from the local governments when they produce in the country, as is the case of Caoa Chery. These tax breaks, no longer collected by the Brazilian state, reduce the country’s public budget.

These are just some of the advantages that are part of the permanent imperialist plundering that the bourgeoisie of the United States and other imperialist countries carry out on the poor countries around the world, including Brazil. Luiz Carlos Mancha said that “currently there isn’t a national car production plant in Brazil. The workers also defend the need to move towards the nationalization of car production.”

Repeal the plant closure and keep the jobs!

As immediate measures, besides the defense of jobs and keeping the factory open, the Caoa Chery workers demand the adoption of the layoff agreement signed between the union and the company, which was then broken by the company’s management.

The workers promise to expand the demonstrations to other Chery factories in Brazil, driven by the union and supported by CSP Conlutas, to which the union is affiliated. The union will also file a request at the Labor Court in Jacareí demanding the cancellation of the layoffs. The president of the union, Weller Gonçalves, stated: “We will not rest until the layoffs are canceled. We will fight until the end in defense of jobs and against the closing of the plant.”

The CAOA factory was installed in the region approximately 10 years ago and received tax and land benefits from the city government. Now, the company dismisses the workers by means of telegrams sent to their homes. These same workers are the ones responsible for running the factory.

Militants of the PSTU (United Socialist Workers Party), the sister party of Workers’ Voice in Brazil, have a strong presence among workers at the plant.

Economic crisis, deindustrialization, and environmental destruction

These layoffs and plant closures occur in a context of a major economic, social, environmental, and political crisis in Brazil. The country has undergone an intense process of deindustrialization in recent decades, which has particularly affected the automotive sector. Several factories have been closed in recent years, including factories owned by Ford, Toyota, and Mercedes, leaving thousands of workers without their jobs.

Brazil is a country with immense natural wealth that is being handed on a platter to the greed of international capital in times of global economic crisis. Hunger, misery, and inflation are growing in Brazil at the same pace as the number of billionaires in the country, whose strong ties to the bourgeoisie of Europe and China are only increasing.

Brazil’s economy is increasingly dependent on the sale of commodities such as oil, grains, and cereals, and is witnessing the emptying of its industrial facilities, as we are seeing at the Caoa Chery factory in Jacareí.

One of the main leaders of the surrender of Brazil to the imperialists and the local bourgeoisie is the current extreme right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro is trying to carry out an auto-coup in Brazil, with the help of the military and big business, with the aim of silencing the workers and over-exploiting them even more.

International solidarity among workers

Workers’ Voice in the United States gives all our solidarity to the brave struggle of the Caoa Chery workers in Brazil. We call on workers, students and activists of our country to support this important ongoing workers’ struggle.

We are sure that the way out of the crisis that the capitalists are imposing on us will come through radical responses, like this one and many others that are taking place throughout Latin America. The future of humanity—which is gravely threatened—can only be built in another society, controlled by the workers. A socialist society!

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