Sayonara Toyota?

Japanese vehicle manufacturer Toyota has been operating in Venezuela for over 50 years.

But on 30 March, Toyota de Venezuela’s management issued a statement warning that the company’s continued presence in Venezuela is “threatened” by a labor conflict which shut down its local assembly plant at the beginning of March.

If Toyota decides to quit Venezuela, there’s no question it would gravely harm Venezuela’s already much-diminished appeal to the kinds of serious international investors the country needs.

Other automakers with similar labor troubles (like Mitsunishi) might decide to throw in the towel too. And it could even undermine Pdvsa’s efforts to persuade Japanese energy companies to invest in Venezuelan oil and gas projects.

Toyota officials say an agreement with striking workers was negotiated, approved and ready to sign this week.

But a small group of “sindicaleros” (union thugs) aligned ideologically with the Chavez regime introduced last-second demands for additional concessions, including full payment of all salaries and benefits during the month the workers have been on strike.

Reuters cites Sintratoyota union organization secretary Argenis Vásquez as saying no agreement was reached. But Toyota officials say Vásquez is lying.

Toyota executives say that payment of “salaries caidos” was not part of the agreement which had been reached.

As a result, a Labor Ministry Inspector suspended the “mesa del dialogo” (i.e. negotiations) indefinitely, and it’s unclear at this writing what happens next.

Besides Totota, other long established automakers in Venezuela (GM, Mitsubishi, etc.) have suffered increasing labor conflicts over the past six/nine months.

The Chavez government maintains these conflicts are labor/management disputes in which the State has no say, always favors the workers, and pressures management to give the “unions” the “justice” they deserve.

But, as we never tire of pointing out, the Chavez regime is lying.

The growing labor conflicts in the automotive industry are being encouraged/fostered deliberately by the Chavez regime.

The unions picking fights and calling strikes for any reason they can dream up describe themselves as followers/supporters of the Bolivarian revolution.

Their political objectives include:

*Neutralizing traditional union leaders and members who are not ideologically aligned with the revolution. The Chavez regime wants to destroy the traditional labor movement and replace it with submissive/servile “Bolivarian” unions that will heed the president’s orders and suppress worker salaries/rights.

*Creating conflictive situations which provide the regime an excuse to intervene in the company’s management/operation, up to and including expropriation if the “musius” don’t toe the line. The regime is stoking labor conflicts in the auto sector to the point that some workers have already been killed and/or injured by gunfire (Mitsubishi’s experience a couple of months ago).

*Wearing down management to the point that some automakers will simply shut down and leave Venezuela. This will create opportunities for Chinese, Russian and Iranian auto companies to set up their own operations in Venezuela without having to make substantial front-end investments in building the structures and installing the equipment required to assemble vehicles.

About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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