Ottawa, Ontario – The president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) is urging the federal government to take immediate steps to ensure the future of a Navistar Truck plant in Chatham, Ontario that is scheduled to lay off a total of more than 1,000 workers.

CAW president Ken Lewenza told federal Industry Minister Tony Clement that a response is a good test of where the federal Conservatives stand when it comes to dealing with the ongoing job crisis in Canada’s manufacturing sector.

“The Navistar truck plant is the economic lifeblood of the community of Chatham,” Lewenza said. “The federal government and provincial governments previously put in money to help ensure the future of this plant, and our members have done everything possible to ensure this plant’s viability and success. The federal government has an important role to play in keeping these jobs in Chatham and in Canada.”

Currently, more than 800 CAW members are on layoff at the plant. Current company plans would mean less than 100 workers would remain, bringing the total layoff to more than 1,000 workers. Navistar also operates truck assembly plants in Mexico and the U.S.

Negotiators for the CAW have advised Navistar that the union intends to bargain beyond the June 30, 2009 expiry of the current collective agreement in an effort to achieve a negotiated settlement.

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