* Workers at GM Canada's car seat supplier Lear on strike
* Union says GM Oshawa production slows to a crawl
* Workers at GM engine part supplier Wescast also on strike
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO, Oct 29 Production at General Motors
Co's Oshawa, Ontario, plant slowed to a crawl on Monday
as a strike at Lear Corp cut off supplies of car seats
used in vehicles assembled there, the Canadian Auto Workers
(CAW) union said.
Talks between Lear and the union were set to continue Monday
afternoon, though the CAW said the two sides remained far apart
and that the Oshawa plant may grind to a halt on Tuesday without
"I can't see them running tomorrow. They would not have the
seats to do that," said Chris Buckley, president of CAW Local
222 at Oshawa.
About 400 workers at Lear's plant in Whitby, Ontario, went
on strike on Sunday after talks broke down over company requests
for contract concessions, the CAW said. The union represents
workers at both GM and Lear.
GM said it expects production at Oshawa "will be affected
early this week" and that it is working to limit the impact.
"GM Canada is hopeful that Lear will reach a resolution with
the CAW," said GM spokeswoman Adria MacKenzie, without giving
details of GM's plans to deal with any disruptions.
A spokesman for Lear was not immediately available for
The union said it cut all-in labor costs, including taxes,
vacation, by C$14 an hour in its last contract with Lear three
years ago, when the global financial crisis endangered the auto
sector's future. It declined to say where total labor costs
Now that Lear is a healthier company, workers deserve to
share that success, the union argued. But in talks that began
Aug. 7, the company has insisted that any reward or bonus
workers receive be balanced by cuts.
The union is not seeking wage increases, Buckley added, but
wants to maintain cost-of-living adjustments.
There are about 4,000 assembly line workers at GM's Oshawa
plant, and 1,500 auto parts workers in surrounding plants, he
Lear's Whitby factory produces and ships car seats to GM
Oshawa for assembly in Impala, Buick Regal, Cadillac and Camaro
models, the CAW's Buckley said.
Buckley said the seats cannot be sourced elsewhere, but GM
Canada could not immediately confirm that.
A halt in production could affect a host of other GM Canada
parts suppliers such as Johnson Controls Inc, Syncreon
and Woodbridge Foam Corp, Buckley said.
WESCAST WORKERS WALK
In another dispute, 65 unionized workers who make exhaust
manifolds at Wescast Industries Inc - also represented
by the CAW - went on strike Saturday morning.
Parts made at Wescast's Strathroy, Ontario, plant are
included in GM's Gen IV engines produced at its St. Catharines,
Ontario, plant. The engines power Silverado and Sierra models
assembled in the United States and Mexico, said CAW national
representative Jim Woods.
"We hope that there's not going to be any disruption," of
supply, Wescast Chief Executive Ed Frackowiak told Reuters.
"Under the labor laws, we have the right to continue to make
parts in that facility by using our salaried staff and that's
what we intend to do," he added.
The union said the strike was caused by GM's recent decision
to move future Wescast production of the exhaust manifold to
China. GM did not respond to a request for information on the
move, and Frackowiak said he was unaware of such a decision.
Wescast is also seeking tough concessions, Woods said,
including permanent two-tier wages. New hires would get C$14 an
hour, while current workers get about C$23 a hour, he said.
"The main issue here is that we are trying to get that
facility competitive," Frackowiak said.
"That's the only solution, long term, for us to be able to
win new business, whether it's General Motors or somebody else,
to keep that place going."
Talks began in July, one month after Wescast agreed to be
acquired by China's Sichuan Bohong Industry Co Ltd in a deal
that has not yet closed.
Wescast shares fell nearly 5 percent on Monday, down 43
Canadian cents at C$8.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.