May - 12 - 2015

Workers of Mercedes Benz Sao Bernardo do Campo (SP) are a key example for the entire working class that adds to the wave of succeeded struggles against the massive layoffs throughout the country, in particular the strikes of the victorious workers of Volkswagen in Sao Bernardo do Campo and General Motors in Sao Jose dos Campos.

Today we have to celebrate together with the workers of Mercedes a victory for them and for workers throughout the country. After a strike that began on Wednesday April 22 against the dismissal of 500 workers who were temporarily laid-off, the company was forced to give up by the strength of the labor movement, and had to stop the layoffs.

In the assembly, which took place at the door of the factory today in the early morning, the workers suspended their strike after the proposal submitted by the company: that the dismissal of workers who had been temporarily laid-off are pendant until June 15. In addition, a new Voluntary Retirement Program (PDV) will be opened until May 15 for all workers in the plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo. Then there will be new negotiations between the employer and the union.

Brief history

The strike of 12,500 workers of Mercedes Benz was initiated in response to the dismissal of 500 workers from a total of 750 that were temporarily laid-off. With this resource, negotiated with the union, the company reduces the cost of the labor force, because part of the wages must be paid by the Workers’ Assistance Fund (FAT).

Of course this kind of agreement benefits the companies, and there is also the fact that with the workers outside the factory it is much easier to impose dismissals. The Union of Metalworkers of the ABC (SMABC) led by the bureaucracy close to the government, has used this type of negotiation for decades in order to avoid a confrontation with the bosses, which weakens the struggle of the workers and creates the illusion that problems can be solved without dealing with the employers.

The transnational that refers high profits to Germany, in addition to the 500 temporary layoffs, announced that it wants to cut down a total of 2,000 jobs. At the beginning of this year, the Mercedes Benz has already permanently laid-off 150 workers, but since there was no forceful response the dismissals were not reversed.

But now the situation is different. Since the decision to go on an indefinite strike reached 100% of the workers, they understood that after these layoffs there will be others, so they were willing to fight until the end to defend their jobs.

Redouble the struggle to make sure all the workers are reinstated

While we should celebrate the triumph of the strike we cannot lose sight that this is a partial victory. The obsession of the company is to deepen the exploitation of the workers in order to increase its rate of profit, for which it will continue to try, by all means, to reduce the number of workers.

Now they speak about the «reduction» of 2,000 jobs, but the logic of the company is to reduce the number of workers to its technical and political limit. That is why workers should, with the experience of the victory against the massive layoffs, overcome the conciliatory position of the leadership of the CUT (Unified Workers’ Central) and have the perspective of the struggle, such as the reduction of working hours without loss of pay, which may in fact solve the problem of unstable employment.

In a climate of polarization to the right, the victory of the workers of Mercedes Benz creates a favorable precedent to the fight against the massive layoffs throughout the country as well as it contributes to the perspective of reinforcing the resistance against the employers/government´s offensive by a unified day of struggle and a general strike against outsourcing, reduction of rights and other attacks against the working class and the youth.

Congratulations to the brave comrades of Mercedes Benz!

Long live the struggle of the working class!

Praxis SoB, April 27, 2015

Categoría: English