April 3, 2007

DaimlerChrysler guarantees $1.8 million for Ontario auto parts workers

Toronto, Ontario – Striking workers at the Collins & Aikman auto parts facility in Scarborough (Toronto), Ontario went back to work yesterday, after taking over their plant for two days when the company refused to pay severance. The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) reports that DaimlerChrysler has guaranteed payment of $1.8 million toward the outstanding severance, an amount in proportion to the work they have in the plant.

Collins & Aikman, which is slated to close in late spring, supplies plastic dashboard parts to Chrysler, Ford and GM. Of more than 400 workers represented by the union at the plant, just over 100 remain on the job, with the remainder on layoff. Collins & Aikman is operating under bankruptcy court protection in the U.S. and the company is winding down or attempting to sell its Canadian operations, according to the CAW.

The union says it will be pressuring GM and Ford to follow the DaimlerChrysler pattern; Collins & Aikman would be responsible to pay back the automakers the severance money that will be paid to the workers.

“This is a hell of a victory for the workers at Collins & Aikman, but we really need to highlight the lack of responsibility shown by this employer,” says Bob Chernecki, assistant to the President of the CAW. “This is another example of the lack of clear policy on ensuring severance pay for workers facing plant closures. The manufacturing industry is in crisis and no one is listening. There needs to be an overall strategy to keep open our auto parts plants and to secure jobs for workers.”

Collins & Aikman owes a total of about $6 million in severance and other benefits to its Scarborough workers, the CAW says. The dispute affected operations at DaimlerChrysler’s assembly facility in Brampton, Ontario, where the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger are built, for about four hours.

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