CAW: Buyouts Will Help Younger Workers Keep Jobs

Canadian Auto Workers union said the solution is nothing more than a ‘bandage on a very, very deep wound’ on the soon-to-be shuttered truck plant in Oshawa, Ont.

TORONTO (CP) --Younger General Motors workers will be able to keep their jobs because of the large number of buyouts accepted at a soon-to-be shuttered truck plant in Oshawa, Ont., but the Canadian Auto Workers union said Wednesday the solution is nothing more than a "bandage on a very, very deep wound."

More than 2,600 senior workers have agreed to "attractive" early retirement or buyout packages, meaning no layoffs should be necessary when the truck plant closes next July, said CAW Local 222 president Chris Buckley.

While the willingness of older members to accept the deal has made "the very best out of a terrible situation," it's still not good news, and the union continues to lobby the federal government to help the ailing industry, he said.

"I'm not doing cartwheels with joy but I am somewhat relieved that we're able to save the jobs of our junior members -- although we're going to lose well over 2,000 good-paying jobs in the city of Oshawa," he said.

It's likely even more workers will opt to take a buyout by the end of the year if the industry doesn't improve, he added.

"Obviously there will be a percentage of our members that are just going to say, 'Hey, the uncertainty is just too high in the auto industry these days,'" Buckley said.

"If some members have an opportunity to seek employment elsewhere or look at a different career opportunity, it might be worth their while to take their buyout package and cut their ties with General Motors -- and get out of the auto industry altogether."

Earlier this year, GM announced it would be closing the plant due to rapidly declining demand for gas-guzzling trucks.

The closure was announced on June 3 -- just two weeks after the CAW and GM agreed on a collective bargaining agreement until 2011 -- and sparked bitterness among workers and a sense of betrayal among union leaders.

Workers staged a 12-day protest, including a blockade of GM headquarters in Oshawa, and subsequent grievance talks resulted in the early retirement and buyout offers, which include a cash incentive of up to $120,000 for the most senior workers and a car voucher worth $35,000.

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