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GM workers temporarily shut plants in Ontario

GM workers temporarily shut plants in Ontario

Angry employees shut down a General Motors plant in Ontario for three hours to protest the impending closure of a truck assembly line, a union spokesman said Saturday.
Workers have been blocking the company's Canadian head office since Wednesday, but early Saturday morning, about 100 people took to their cars and drove in a slow convoy around the truck and car plants.
Union spokesman Keith Osborne said trucks delivering parts could not get in, forcing a shutdown at both the car and truck plants that lasted three hours.
"General Motors experienced a little bit of heartburn today," said Canadian Auto Workers Local 222 president Chris Buckley. "That's nothing compared to what 2,600 of my members feel every day right now. It's a lot more than heartburn."
Buckley said the union would only take legal protest measures for now.
GM spokesman Stew Low confirmed that the plant had lost production as a result of the convoy Saturday.
"I would certainly hope that there won't be any more interruptions of production," he added. "It's important that we build the orders that customers have given us.
General Motors announced this week that it was closing Oshawa and three other pickup truck and sport utility vehicle factories as US$4 per gallon gas has caused sales to tumble. The Oshawa truck assembly line employs 2,600 hourly and 300 salaried workers.
CAW president Buzz Hargrove said Friday that the automaker committed to keeping the Oshawa plant open in a contract agreement on May 15, which also included a promise that the truck plant would build a new hybrid truck, giving them work until at least 2011.
Hargrove met Friday with GM brass at the company's headquarters in Detroit in what union officials described as a tense 90-minute meeting, resulting in GM flatly refusing a union demand to keep the truck plant open past 2009.
In May, U.S. pickup sales fell more than 38 percent, and the company has said the market declined more rapidly than expected last month.
Hargrove said that market conditions haven't changed in the 2 1/2 weeks since GM agreed to the new three-year deal with the CAW. The CAW president also added that the union has time to decide its next move because the plant isn't scheduled to close until 2009.
Low said that at the time of negotiations, GM still believed that the slumping pickup market could recover. Since then, the trend away from trucks to cars has accelerated, he said.
GM said it can idle factories if market conditions warrant and that the Oshawa truck was picked for idling because it makes high-end pickups with more expensive options, a segment of the market affected severely by the sales decline.
Low said GM committed during contract talks to build a second car at the Oshawa car plant, and is looking at a third because the plant is flexible enough to build several models. He would not say what models.
The Oshawa plant makes the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.


Updated : 2021-02-27 03:46 GMT+08:00