Car giant Ford announced on Tuesday, Feb. 19, that it will close by November its heavy truck plant in São Bernardo do Campo, just outside the city of São Paulo, Brazil, a move that union leaders estimate will cost 2,800 direct jobs and 1,500 outsourced jobs. The statistical institute Dieese estimates the move could indirectly impact 24,000 workers down the chain.
Ford president in Brazil, Lyle Watters, and its vice president, Rogelio Golfarb, announced the decision during a meeting with the Metalworkers’ Union of the ABC Area, an industrial suburb of São Paulo. The workers, who were caught by surprise, decided to go on strike hours after the announcement and will gather again next Tuesday to define the next steps they will take.
“We did everything we could to prevent this from happening. And you can’t expect to hear news like this and just keep working. We must all go home and come back next week. We’ll be on strike until then,” said José Quixabeira de Anchieta, the general coordinator of the Ford Union Committee, according to a statement released by the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT).
The carmaker released a statement to the press informing the move is part of a global reorganization, “as an important milestone to resume sustainable profitability with its South American operations,” and will cease to make and sell Cargo, F-4000, and F-350 trucks, as well as the Fiesta line after it runs out of stock.
Ford also said the decision was made after several months of consideration and that it tried to find other options, including partnerships or even selling the operation. The large investments and the growing costs necessary to meet market needs, the company said, made it hard to have “a profitable, sustainable business.” In 2018, Ford recorded a US$3.7-billion net profit, a 52 percent drop over the year before.
Edition: Daniel Giovanaz | Translated by Aline Scátola