Auto union at Oshawa plant slams GM "betrayal"

Tue Jun 3, 2008 9:00am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The decision by General Motors to close down its Oshawa truck assembly plant is an act of betrayal as GM had promised to make a new line of vehicles there, a senior union official said on Tuesday.

GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner announced on Tuesday that the plant would shut down in 2009 as part of cost-cutting measures. Around 2,600 jobs will be lost.

The Canadian Auto Workers union reached a three-year contract deal with GM in mid-May, agreeing to a wage freeze. GM said the Oshawa plant would start producing hybrid versions of two of its pick-up trucks.

"They committed to products in this plant behind us and as of today, they've pulled that product out from underneath us. It's nothing short of betrayal," said Chris Buckley, president of the CAW branch at the Oshawa plant.

"General Motors is going to produce our truck in Mexico and the United States. That's absolutely disgusting and I absolutely feel betrayed today," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Buckley said the union would seek to persuade GM to reverse the decision, but added he was not optimistic.

"As of May 16 we've been working under the terms of the new three-year collective agreement and in my opinion they've bargained in bad faith and that's up to us to address as a union," he said.

Buckley also attacked the federal government, saying it had done nothing to help offset the impact of a robust Canadian dollar which was making life hard for manufacturers.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

 
<p>General Motors Car Plant is pictured in Oshawa, a Toronto suburb, November 21, 2005. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski</p>