* Tension at one assembly line leads to day off for entire
* GM plans to continue talks with union, government
* Company won't say whether suspension could last beyond
By Alberto Alerigi
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 24 General Motors suspended
production for the day at one of its factories in Brazil, where
workers on one assembly line have gone on strike after a
slowdown in sales of some vehicles, the automaker said on
The factory, in the Sao Paulo suburb of Sao Jose dos Campos,
will be closed Tuesday, GM said, as the company moves ahead with
its review of production and ongoing talks with labor leaders
over the troubled assembly line, one of eight at the site.
GM declined to comment on whether the suspension would last
more than one day.
Although the assembly line in dispute employs only a
fraction of the 7,200 workers at the factory, GM said it had
given the day off to all of them because talks with the union in
recent days have grown increasingly heated.
"It's a delicate moment," GM said in a statement, adding
that the company "prefers not to expose its workers to possible
incitement and provocation."
Automakers across Brazil, Latin America's biggest car
market, are struggling with flagging sales after years of record
growth. Brazil's economy, which grew by an annual average of
more than 4 percent during much of the past decade, has
stagnated in recent quarters because of the crisis in Europe and
economic uncertainty worldwide.
Earlier this month, GM ended production of one of the four
vehicles it made on the assembly line in question. Since May,
about 350 of the 1,500 workers on the line have accepted
Other employees of the line have been striking, however, as
the company determines whether or not to continue with the
production of the other three vehicles. In a telephone interview
last week, Luiz Moan, GM's head of institutional relations in
Brazil, said the company would determine the fate of the
assembly line by the end of the month, after reviewing July
In a statement, the Metalworkers Union of Sao Jose dos
Campos called Tuesday's suspension "undemocratic" and said it
violated Brazilian laws that prohibit lockouts by employers.
"This behavior only increases the insecurity for workers and
makes clear the manufacturer's intention of a mass layoff," the
GM said planned talks with the union and government
representatives were scheduled to go ahead on Wednesday.