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Protest Of GM's Ontario Plant Closing Continues

Workers fighting the closure of a GM truck assembly plant in Ontario said they plan to keep a high profile without breaking the law as they escalate their protests.

OSHAWA, Ontario (AP) -- General Motors workers fighting the pending closure of a major truck assembly plant in southern Ontario said they plan to keep a high profile without breaking the law as they escalate their protests in coming days.

Canadian Auto Workers brass joined union representatives Sunday in a rally protesting the closure of the Oshawa plant that employs 2,600 people. Last week, General Motors Corp. announced the plant would be among four North American facilities being closed due to decreased demand for trucks.

Speaking at GM's Canadian headquarters, which angry workers have been blockading for days, CAW president Buzz Hargrove said ongoing protest plans do not include wildcat strikes in the near future.

Union representatives also had sharp criticism of the federal government's role.

''We're not asking the federal government to bail out corporations,'' said CAW Local 222 president Chris Buckley. ''We're asking the federal government to address the root cause of our problems, the unfair trade, the rising Canadian dollar, the rising fuel prices.''

Hargrove said the federal government must pass a resolution forcing automakers to build all vehicles they want to sell in Canada in Canadian plants.

''That's not very radical,'' he said. ''All the major auto-producing nations protect their auto industry in some manner. That's all we're asking for as well.''

Despite occupying the Oshawa corporate offices, Buckley told workers they should keep going to work at the plant while officials examined their options for legal recourse.

Keith Osborne, truck plant chairman of Local 222, said the CAW will launch the next phase of its action early in the week, but he wouldn't specify what that will entail. He'll head to a CAW bargaining convention on Tuesday with a message that strong support is the only way to move forward.

GM workers picketing at the blockade said they're prepared to go the distance in order to get the company to reverse its decision to close the Oshawa plant next year.

''All the way, whatever it takes,'' said Linda Currier, a GM employee since 1985. ''It's extremely important to the future of young kids and also to the surrounding community.''

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