GM Workers strikes at Brazil plant for 24 hours image

Workers at General Motors Co.’s plant in Sao Jose dos Campos – Brazil carried out a 24-hour strike to protest dwindling output on an assembly line where workers fear for the future of 1,500 jobs.

The Metalworkers Union of Sao Jose dos Campos said in a statement that the strike had paralyzed production at the plant, which normally produces 750 vehicles per day. But a GM executive said many employees still came into work, allowing for production at a slower pace.

The topic is especially sensitive given that the Brazilian government is running an auto stimulus through the end of August that involves a decrease on industrial taxes for automakers; the stimulus was initiated on the condition that automakers maintain the size of their workforce.

However, while GM is cutting car production, it is increasing light commercial vehicle production. It added a third shift to produce its S-10 model of pickup trucks at Sao Jose dos Campos and is seeking to manufacture other light-commercial vehicles there.

New car sales in Brazil have taken a hit this year as the global economy slows, dragging down Brazilian growth with it.

Restrictions on auto financing have also crimped sales after a surge in new car loans in 2009 and 2010 led to record default levels earlier this year. Sales so far this year are down 1.2 percent from 2011 levels, and production is 9.4 percent lower than at the same time last year.