by Pablo Velasco
Last week metalworkers went on indefinite strike at a General Motors (GM) plant and a Renault car factory in Brazil.
Some 5,000 workers at GM's Sao Jose dos Campos plant and another 2,500 at Renault's Sao Jose dos Pinhais factory are striking for higher wages to compensate for rising inflation.
In addition to a 10% wage increase, GM workers are demanding a cut in their working week from 40 to 36 hours and an "inflation clause" that guarantees a pay raise every time consumer prices jump more than 3%. At the Renault plant, union leaders are pushing for a 14% pay increase.
The strike is the second major walkout by factory workers since Lula da Silva became president. In March, tens of thousands of metalworkers at more than 80 auto parts plants in the industrial hub of Sao Paulo staged a three-day walkout, but returned to work after winning pay raises to compensate for an inflationary spurt last year. Lula has distanced himself from the disputes, urging the parties to negotiate a quick solution.