June 20, 2008 / 3:31 AM / in 9 years

No decision on damages in GM, CAW legal battle

TORONTO (Reuters) - An Ontario court did not deliver a ruling on Thursday on C$1.5 million ($1.5 million) in damage claims by General Motors of Canada against the Canadian Auto Workers union, and it is doubtful the company will pursue the matter further, a CAW official said.

<p>General Motors employees hold signs outside its Canadian headquarters in Oshawa, Ontario June 4, 2008. . REUTERS/Fred Thornhill</p>

The only thing agreed to in Ontario Superior Court in Whitby, Ontario, was that each party would pay their own court costs, said CAW Local 222 Chairman Keith Osborne.

He said the automaker had not yet filed the papers needed for the suit to go forward.

“The actual lawsuit -- the company has 30 days from the date the injunction was filed to pursue that, and nobody figures they will, but who knows.”

A GM spokesman was not available for comment.

The damage claims stem from the union’s 12-day blockade of GM’s Canadian headquarters after the company’s decision to close its Oshawa, Ontario, truck plant.

In a notice of action filed June 10, GM argued the CAW “unlawfully blocked and delayed GMC employees and vehicles from entering or exiting the ... facility.”

It said it was seeking C$250,000 from union Local 222, and the same amount from five of its members, including Local 222 President Chris Buckley.

The two sides were in court last Friday, when the judge ordered the CAW to end its blockade. But he allowed the protest to continue through the weekend to Monday morning, saying GM had acted “almost deceitfully” in recent contract talks.

The company told the union on June 3 that it would close the truck plant in late 2009, putting as many as 2,600 workers out of a job. That announcement came just two weeks after negotiations in which GM agreed to keep the plant open until at least 2011.

Part of the union’s protest included a one-time convoy of hundreds of cars that circled the company’s plants, stopping production for 45 minutes, GM said.

GM makes the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra at the Oshawa truck plant. It also plans to close two other plants in the United States and one in Mexico, citing a steep drop in demand for light trucks and SUVs in a U.S. market hit hard by the economic slowdown and soaring fuel costs.

The company also has a car plant in Oshawa, where the Chevrolet Impala is built, and production of the new Camaro is set to begin later this year.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson

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