Brazil: Workers Protest Closure of Ford Factory in State of Bahia

By David Martinez

On January 21 in an act of protest, automobile workers in Camaçari in the state of Bahia took their uniforms, on which they wrote the names of their family members affected by the closure of the Ford plant, and hung them on the fence surrounding the factory headquarters.

Earlier this month, Ford Motor Co., which operated three plants in Brazil, announced it would close all operations and cease production of any vehicles in the country. Ford has operated in the country since 1919.

In Bahia alone, the company has said this would result in about 5,000 firings, but union representatives contest this, and say that it will be closer to 12,000, along with an estimated 60,000 workers indirectly losing work due to the closure. Countrywide, it’s expected that 22,000 Ford workers will lose their jobs, and an even greater numbers of indirect workers.

The company has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the closures, but this masks the real crisis of the global economic crisis of imperialist overproduction independent of the health crisis. The autoworkers of Brazil are a disposable workforce under the imperialist exploitation of the Third World and their bureaucratic capitalist governments, which cater to imperialist superpowers, principally US imperialism in the case of Brazil.

Between 2010 and 2020, foreign car manufacturers in Brazil received around $8 billion in incentives. Companies like Ford pressed the bureaucratic bourgeoisie to dismantle workers’ protections, extracting more surplus value and increasing their profits. Meanwhile, they have said they will still push their cars on the Brazilian market with vehicles produced in Argentina, Uruguay, and elsewhere.

A Nova Democracia, a democratic newspaper in Brazil, has stated, “The departure of the imperialist, multinational Ford from the country is yet another result of the profound crisis that befalls Brazil, which still suffers the impacts of the imperialist crisis of 2020. With the departure of Ford, the country’s growing and criminal deindustrialization continues.”

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