SAO PAULO – General Motors do Brasil Ltda. has informed the Metalworkers Union of Sao Jose dos Campos that it is stretching collective mandatory holiday vacations to include workers on the plant’s second shift, who assemble the Chevrolet S-10 pickup.

The move is a measure to align production with consumer demand as the market takes a downturn due to the spreading global economic slowdown.

A number of Brazil’s auto makers in recent months have moved up workers’ Christmas holiday paid time off in an effort to reduce vehicle stockpiles at dealerships around the country.

However, the latest development is fueling suspicion among unionized workers GM Brazil may be planning to suspend its proposed $500 million investment to build a new line of vehicles.

This is particularly worrisome in light of parent General Motors Corp.’s plea for loans from the U.S. government to help stave off bankruptcy.

The S-10 production-line workers will be on collective vacations from Dec.1-23 but will not return to work until Jan. 5, due to the traditional holiday break. The union estimates about 400 workers will be affected.

This is the fourth announcement of collective vacations in little more than a month for GM workers at Sao Jose dos Campos.

The work interruption began Oct. 20 for the first shift on the Corsa line.

On Nov. 24, workers producing complete-knocked-down kits for export also were sent home on vacation leave.

Earlier last week, workers on the powertrain and second-shift Corsa Zafira and Montana lines started mandatory vacations.