Canadian Auto Parts Workers Lose Their Jobs

About 250 workers at Oakville, Ontario, auto parts company Polywheels Manufacturing became the latest casualties of high gas prices.

OAKVILLE, Ont. -- About 250 workers at an Oakville, Ont., auto parts company Monday became the latest casualties of high gas prices.

Workers arrived at Polywheels Manufacturing to report for their 7 a.m. shift to find yellow notes on the doors informing all hourly workers of an "extended plant shutdown" and to wait for a call at home.

Polywheels "is not able to continue business," since the tools it uses to mould plastic auto parts are being sent to another supplier, said Dave Pike, director of human resources at the company.

"We have not finalized (the closure), but with the tools being removed we're not sure we're going to have a business," he said, while a receptionist fielded calls from workers wondering if they still had a job.

"The plant is down as we speak and we're looking at where we go from here."

A high Canadian dollar, high gasoline prices, and the American axle strike were factors in sending workers home, he said. But General Motors' decision to close its Oshawa plant "directly affected us," said Pike.

Polywheels provided parts for the Sierra and Silverado models at the doomed truck plant.

James McKenzie, president of CAW Local 1256, which represents workers at the plant, said that the company has filed for bankruptcy protection and that "(the union is) currently working with the company with the attempt to bring our workers back and get the company to work within the confines of (bankruptcy) protection."

"(When) the pressures of the increase in oil and gas prices affects businesses anywhere, but especially in my town, it's regrettable," said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. "But I remain optimistic for the future of the company."

Workers outside the plant yesterday were less optimistic.

"Put it this way," said one man, while peeling off a name plate from a parking space.

"We figure out how to bring the price of oil down and we'll all be fine."

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