About 19,000 General Motors Co workers in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo went on strike on Friday, demanding better wages after failing to reach an agreement with the company.
Work stopped Friday morning at a GM factory in Sao Caetano do Sul, which employs around 10,500, and in Sao Jose dos Campos, with another 8,500 employees, according to union officials. The move came as Volkswagen AG workers in southern Brazil entered the 13th day of a strike.
The strikes took place as automakers in the country were rushing to meet an expected increase in consumer demand this month, the last with a full tax reduction that helped reduce car prices and pushed the industry to record sales and production volumes.
GM offered a wage increase of 6.53 percent and a 1,750 reais ($972) bonus. Workers demanded a 10 percent raise and a 2,000 reais bonus at the Sao Caetano plant, while workers in Sao Jose dos Campos called for a wage increase of 14.65 percent.
In another blow for the auto industry in the country, 60,000 workers from auto parts and machinery companies in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area decided to walk out of their jobs on Friday, also demanding better pay.
We've exhausted our patience and can no longer accept excuses from companies for not increasing wages above the rate of inflation, said Sergio Nobre, president of the metalworkers union for three cities in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, in a statement.
Workers at Volkswagen-Audi plants in the southern state of Parana have been on strike since Sept. 3, causing a production loss of 9,800 cars, according with the local workers' union.
Despite the strikes at GM and Volkswagen, workers in Parana state for France's Renault and Sao Paulo employees at Honda and Toyota have agreed to raises of 8.65 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The eight-day strike at a Renault-Nissan factory, also in Parana, ended last Saturday.
Brazil's auto sector, the fifth-largest in the world by sales according to national automakers association Anfavea, expects a 6.4 percent increase in sales in 2009 to 3 million cars, the third consecutive record. Production, on the other hand, will drop 5.2 percent because of the sharp slump in exports brought on by the international crisis.
(Reporting by Alberto Alerigi Jr., editing by Dave Zimmerman)