Angry union members blockade GM Canada head office

Wed Jun 4, 2008 5:42pm EDT
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OSHAWA, Ontario (Reuters) - Hundreds of angry autoworkers blockaded the entrance to General Motors of Canada's headquarters in Oshawa, Ontario, on Wednesday, demanding the company reverse its decision to close the local truck plant and crying foul over the timing of the closure.

"We're not allowing any GM of Canada employees to enter the headquarters building," said Chris Buckley, of the Canadian Auto Workers union, which says 2,600 jobs will go if the truck plant closes.

"We are going to stay here until General Motors reverses the decision they made yesterday, or at the very least commits to a product for the Oshawa truck plant, or sits down face-to-face with this union to try to explain why they have broken our brand new agreement."

GM said it would meet with the union in Detroit on Friday.

The company announced on Tuesday it would closed the Oshawa plant, and three others in North America, as it tries to shore up a restructuring plan that has been overtaken by a steep decline in U.S. sales of pickup trucks and SUVs in the face of surging gas prices and tight credit.

Two truck plants in the United States and one in Mexico are also slated to close.

Up to 750 people, many clad in red T-shirts emblazoned with a white maple leaf and the words "Made in Canada matters," peacefully blocked the road leading to GM's Canadian headquarters.

"I feel sick about this situation and all I can do is visualize GM workers on the welfare line," said Jim Bedford, a retired GM employee from nearby Bowmanville, Ontario.