Canada union acknowledges Oshawa plant to shut

Thu Jun 26, 2008 3:54pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian autoworkers acknowledged that General Motors Corp's (GM.N: Quote) decision to close a Oshawa, Ontario, truck plant next year was irrevocable, a union leader said on Thursday after a meeting with company officials.

"Are we accepting it? Eventually, if someone keeps hitting you over the head with a sledgehammer, you're going to wake up," said Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said at the union's headquarters.

Hargrove said GM told the union it may decide to build a new model in its Oshawa car plant, where the new Chevrolet Camaro muscle car is set to begin production, but he added the situation looked bleak.

"We talked about putting together an incentive program that will help with the downsizing of the Oshawa operation over the next four or five years," said Hargrove.

The CAW said it would take a couple of weeks to look at the GM proposal on incentives before responding.

About 2,600 unionized workers will lose their jobs when the truck plant is closed.

GM's announcement of the closure ignited a firestorm of protest that included a 12-day blockade of GM Canada's headquarters. It came just two-weeks after the company signed a new three-year labor agreement with the union in which it said it would keep the plant open until at least 2011.

An Ontario judge ordered an end to the blockade, but added that GM acted with "almost deceitful behavior" in the contract negotiations, which could make future bargaining difficult.   Continued...