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SAO PAULO: Thousands of workers on Tuesday protested the pending closure of carmaker Ford’s three Brazilian factories at the cost of some 5,000 jobs.

Some 3,000 Ford employees in protective facemasks gathered at Ford’s plants at Camacari in northeast Brazil and another 500 at Taubate in the southeast, both closed with immediate effect.

“It was shocking news, the worst possible,” said Felipe Monteiro, a 34-year-old electronic technician and father of two who has worked at the Taubate factory for 16 years.

Ford said Monday that losses exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic would see it close all three its three factories in Brazil, where it has operated for a century, saying the move was “very difficult, but necessary.”