CAW union says pressing for new GM Canada deal

Tue May 12, 2009 12:42pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Tuesday it is working hard to reach a new contract agreement with General Motors of Canada ahead of a government imposed deadline of May 15, but cautioned there are no guarantees a cost-saving deal will be reached.

The union said at the end of last week that Ottawa had warned that without new cost concessions with the struggling automaker, GM would likely be forced to liquidate its Canadian operations.

"This is extremely painful and that we're doing everything within our power to protect the interests of our active and retired members," said Chris Buckley, chairman of the CAW-GM bargaining committee and president of CAW Local 222 in Oshawa, Ontario.

"The alternative is the company going into liquidation (in Canada) and we're trying to avoid that because then nobody wins."

The CAW and GM began bargaining on Sunday and Buckley said the two sides were pushing hard to meet the government's deadline, "but there are no guarantees."

A spokesman for GM Canada was not immediately available for comment.

GM's CEO said on Monday that it was probable the company would have to seek bankruptcy protection to help it restructure.

The union reopened its three-year collective agreements with GM and Chrysler, reached last May, to help the companies survive the brutal downturn in the auto sector and qualify for government aid.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Minister of Industry Tony Clement speaks during a news conference in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 7, 2009. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>