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Trade union and Industry 4.0 implementation: two polar cases in Brazilian trucks manufacturing

Jorge Muniz Jr. (Department of Production Engineering, Universidade Estadual Paulista, SP, Brazil)
Fernando Ramalho Martins (Department of Public Management, Universidade Estadual Paulista, SP, Brazil)
Daniel Wintersberger (Department of Management, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
João Paulo Oliveira Santos (Universidade Estadual Paulista, SP, Brazil)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 3 October 2023

Issue publication date: 1 December 2023




This paper aims to discuss how trade union leaders deal with the implementation of Industry 4.0 (I4.0). The study is circumscribed to the Brazilian automotive sector and came from a human-centric (Industry 5.0) concern related to issues such as organisational learning, knowledge, innovation and workplace learning.


Case studies in two truck plants related to union participation during new product and process implementation based on Industry 4.0. Semi-structured interviews with union leaders from both plants were conducted to determine the subtle similarities and differences between the two polar types.


The findings pointed out that human resources and workplace learning must be reviewed to prepare workers to face I4.0. Four themes are explored: modernisation origins; negotiation process; workers’ concerns; and results and lessons learned. The findings highlight concerns about employees and job loss; replacement of workers by technological devices; workplace learning and the trade union perspective; and influence of the country’s economic situation on I4.0 implementation in social systems dependent on worker tacit knowledge.


This paper presents labour union leaders’ perspectives related to the impact of I4.0 and contributes to a better understanding of industry-worker workplace learning.



This study was financed in part by two Brazilians research agencies, Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, CAPES-PrInt #88887.310463/2018-00) and The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP # 2021/10944-2).

Since acceptance of this article, the following author has updated their affiliation: João Paulo Oliveira Santos is at the Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos do ABC, SP, Brazil.


Muniz Jr., J., Ramalho Martins, F., Wintersberger, D. and Oliveira Santos, J.P. (2023), "Trade union and Industry 4.0 implementation: two polar cases in Brazilian trucks manufacturing", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 35 No. 8, pp. 670-692.



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