Canadian Auto Workers Await Restructuring Plans

Chrysler Canada and General Motors of Canada present restructuring plans on Friday in hopes of securing $1 billion from the federal and provincial governments.

WINDSOR, Ont. (CP) -- With only 10 years of seniority at Chrysler Canada Inc.'s assembly plant in this southwestern Ontario city, Lisa Kelly says she's "on the chopping block."

That's why she's bracing herself for what may come Friday when the company pitches its restructuring plan for Canada in hopes of securing $1 billion from the federal and provincial governments.

"Emotionally I'm on pins and needles," the 49-year-old said Thursday. "I wake up all the time because I'm constantly thinking about it."

Although Chrysler has said no job losses are expected in Windsor, officials with the Canadian Auto Workers fear if minivan sales continue to plummet, the company will cut one of its three shifts at the plant, which employs about 4,800 people.

The move would likely put about 1,200 people out of work.

"Who's going to hire me?" she asks.

Other Chrysler workers are also concerned with losing homes and having to trade down lifestyles.

Gone will be the extras, such as vacations, cell phones, cable TV and Internet service.

And because the plant was closed in January and is currently operating on only two shifts, some are already on tighter budgets.

For some, the past Christmas was a little less merry when it came to gift-giving.

"It's scary because there's no real sense of security," said Tony Fanara, who's married with a child. "It feels like you're holding your breath, holding it for as long as you can, hoping this will blow over."

With 14 years of service, the 39-year-old assembly line worker said he'd likely survive a shift cut, but would be among the first to go if there were future layoffs or line speed reductions.

Breathing a bit easier is forklift operator Lino LoMedico, with 17 years of seniority.

But he too will be watching Friday as Chrysler, along with General Motors of Canada Ltd., present restructuring plans.

The two companies are seeking $4 billion in aid.

"We've experienced downturns ... but in this instance it's absolutely horrible," said LoMedico, adding if production is cut, auto-parts suppliers will also have to lay off workers.

"Everybody is very nervous," he said.

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