The Volkswagen Group spied on Brazilian union activists in the 1980s and passed information to the country’s military dictatorship about salary demands and other private discussions, according to a Reuters report .

The carmaker monitored its own workers and also big union leaders of the era, one of VW’s targets being Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who became President of Brazil from 2003 to 2011, remaining one of the country’s most influential politicians.

Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, has started investigating abuses that took place during 1964-1985 and the documents which reveal that information coming from VW was discovered in government archives by a special “truth commission” at the request of Rousseff.

According to the commission’s leaders, 20 pages of documents marked “confidential” that Volkswagen gave to the military in 1983 and 1984 prove that some automakers gathered their own information on union activities and shared it with authorities, a suspicion Reuters expressed a month ago concerning Volkswagen and other foreign automakers.

Sebastiao Neto, a member of the National Truth Commission, said that “These documents show with exceptional clarity how companies expected the government to help them solve their problems with their workers.”

Companies could face civil lawsuits or reparations demand if they are found to have contributed to human rights violations of their workers during the Brazilian dictatorship. The auto brand said that “Volkswagen is acknowledged to be a model for coming to terms with its corporate history. The company will handle this topic in the same way.”

By Gabriela Florea


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