CARACAS, April 28 (Reuters) - The Venezuelan division of General Motors Co has sacked 13 percent of its workforce and the local Ford Motor Co plant has halted operations as a shortage of hard currency has left the companies unable to acquire parts, a union leader said on Tuesday.
The OPEC nation’s currency control system has reduced dollar outlays amid falling oil prices, leaving the auto industry unable to import components and at times forcing companies to halt production lines.
“Two weeks ago, 446 General Motors workers were dismissed,” Christian Pereira, president of the federation of unions that represents auto workers, said in a telephone interview. “The company said production is slowing and auto parts for assembly are nearly impossible to obtain.”
A representative for General Motors de Venezuela said the company had no comment.
Pereira said the Ford assembly plant has been halted for two weeks for lack of parts and is considering laying off 267 workers. Ford did immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other companies with operations in Venezuela, including Fiat ; Toyota ; Mitsubishi ; Iveco, owned by Italy’s CNH Industrial ; and Mack, owned by Volvo , are facing similar problems, Pereira said.
Vehicle assembly dropped by 79 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Venezuelan auto industry group Cavenez.
Assembly between January and March was only 3,408 vehicles, compared with a monthly average of 15,000 cars during the peak of auto output in 2008, according to Cavenez.
Ford wrote off its entire investment in Venezuela in January with an $800 million pre-tax write down, citing currency controls that restrict the subsidiary’s ability to purchase parts and pay dividends. (Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Leslie Adler)