CAW talks continuing into the night
London Community News
By Dana Flavelle
Five hours after Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza threatened to call a strike against General Motors, the two sides were still talking with no end in sight.
During a brief break in negotiations at 5:20 p.m., Jerry Dias, assistant to CAW president Lewenza, said there was still nothing to report.
Earlier in the day, a frustrated Lewenza had threatened to put the company on strike notice if talks failed to proceed.
The union is in talks with both GM and Chrysler in hopes of getting them to agree to the same deal Ford accepted on Monday.
The union extended a midnight strike deadline Monday to give GM and Chrysler a chance to review the Ford deal.
The union is pushing the other two automakers to adopt the Ford agreement as the ‘pattern’ for their own deals.
The deal, which goes to a vote by Ford workers over the weekend, allows the automaker pay lower wages and pension benefits to new hires while giving existing workers annual bonuses instead of pay increases.
However, each automaker has numerous ‘local’ issues that must also be worked out as part of the overall package.
Among the sticking points is GM’s use of temporary workers, who are paid less than permanent staff.
The union agreed during the government bailout in 2009 of a then struggling GM to permit the use of temporary hires.
But with the future of 2,000 jobs on GM’s consolidated line in Oshawa now unclear, the union is looking for some job guarantees.
GM announced just before talks formally began in August that it would go ahead with plans to close the older consolidated plant.
Earlier in the day, a frustrated Lewenza said he would exercise his right to call a strike on 24 hours’ notice if no progress was being made.
Meanwhile, talks were continuing at Chrysler though they’re not as advanced as the negotiations at GM.
In the Ford deal, the company agreed to create 600 new jobs at its Oakville assembly plant that will help offset 800 layoffs at its assembly plant in St. Thomas.
The deal would see new hires start at lower wages, about $20 instead of $24 an hour, and take longer to reach the top pay rate of $34 an hour.
They would also get a hybrid pension plan that would only partially guarantee their retirement payout.
The auto industry accounts for a quarter of all manufacturing output in Ontario.
Economists say a strike would set back for the province’s already fragile economy.
- Torstar News Service