GM fires 598 workers at Brazil auto plant

US automaker General Motors said it dismissed 598 workers at a struggling assembly line at his Brazilian unit Tuesday in line with an agreement reached with the union last January.

A GM spokesman told AFP that the laid-off workers at the Sao Jose dos Campos plant, near Sao Paulo, had been on paid leave since last August, and that the January accord mediated by the government specified that they were to be dismissed by a March 26 deadline if no work was available.

It said the unproductive line at the sprawling complex "has the high cost in Brazil" and was not competitive. The line already stopped making the Zafira, Merica and Corsa models.

But the metalworkers union representing the workers said in a statement that it understood the threatened jobs were to be maintained until the end of the year.

The GM complex, which employs 7,200 workers, produces other the Chevrolet Classic, the Blazer, S10 pickup, engines and transmission on other lines.

The union said more workers could be fired, as GM had planned 1,600 job cuts.

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