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Hargrove relieved that Chrysler strike in U.S. was short lived

The settling of a short strike by Chrysler workers in the United States on Wednesday was good news for the auto company's two Canadian assembly plants, which could have been shut down later this week because of a supply shortage.

The United Auto Workers union reached a tentative four-year contract agreement with Chrysler LLC just hours after 49,000 U.S. workers went to the picket lines.

``This is obviously good news,'' Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.

``Had this strike lasted for another 48 hours, they would've shut down the Canadian operations and over 9,000 people who worked for Chrysler (Canada) would've been impacted and laid off.''

He added that thousands of other workers at auto parts manufactuerers in Canada would also have been laid off if Chrysler's U.S. plants remained idle for long.

With workers expected to go back to their jobs immediately, the stoppage was likely to have little impact on the auto producer's Canadian operations in Ontario.

Earlier Wednesday, before the strike was settled, Chrysler Canada spokesman Ed Saenz said a lack of U.S.-sourced parts would likely hit the 5,000-worker minivan plant in Windsor, Ont., within 24 hours and the 4,000-employee sedan plant in Brampton, Ont., within 48 hours if the UAW strike continued.

``We take axles, engines, transmissions from the U.S., and when those stop coming because the employees at those plants are not building them, it'll force us to stop production on the vehicles here,'' Saenz said.

He added that the U.S. job action would not affect Chrysler's 300-worker Etobicoke casting plant in Toronto ``in the near future.'' That site produces pistons and other pieces for engines and transmissions.

After the settlement agreement was announced, Saenz said ``we don't expect production will have to stop at either of the two major plants (or in Etobicoke).''

A two-day UAW strike against General Motors in the United States late last month forced GM Canada to briefly close its two sedan assembly plants in Oshawa, east of Toronto, affecting 5,600 workers, and a 1,300-employee transmission factory in Windsor. GM's Oshawa pickup-truck plant, with 3,900 employees, kept operating.

Even if a long strike had happened, retailers would havve been prepared, according to Chrysler's Saenz. He said Canadian dealers still have abundant inventory to offer prospective buyers.

"We've got a fair amount of most products on the ground," he said.

"It's going to depend on how long this thing goes, and that's something I really can't estimate."


12.10.2007 15:15

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