TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - The Canadian Auto Workers union is optimistic
that today's restructuring decisions regarding Chrysler represent the
beginning of a brighter future for the new company.
"It is shocking that a company with Chrysler's stature and history should
be forced into bankruptcy protection," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "But
this development is just one part of a bigger process that we hope will
reposition the company for recovery and future success."
It is not yet clear whether the developments in the U.S. will cause
Chrysler to seek CCAA protection here in Canada.
Lewenza urged his members at Chrysler to remain calm, and to "keep doing
what you do best: building high-quality vehicles, more productively than
anyone else in the world."
The CAW recently reached a new cost-saving collective agreement with
Chrysler, and company officials have committed that the deal will remain
intact even if Chrysler ends up in bankruptcy protection.
Lewenza expressed outrage that Chrysler's Chapter 11 filing is being
forced as a result of the "greed and myopia" of financial interests. "It is
infuriating that a couple of hedge funds that caused this to happen," he said.
"After all, it was financial speculators, not auto workers, who created this
crisis in the first place. And now they are the ones pulling the plug."
Lewenza endorsed the proposed partnership between Chrysler and Fiat. He
referred to his face-to-face meeting earlier this week with Mr. Sergio
Marchionne, Fiat's CEO. "He is a talented, fair person, and I look forward to
working with him. Canada has been very good to Chrysler over the years, and we
will be very good to Fiat, too," Lewenza said.
Lewenza commended the Canadian and Ontario governments for their efforts
to safeguard Chrysler's presence here. "By participating in the restructuring,
and confirming Chrysler's continuing footprint here, our governments are
helping to ensure that Canadians capture a fair share of the benefits once the
company turns around in the future."
Finally, Lewenza also stressed the need to develop a broader national
auto strategy to reinforce the industry's underlying fundamentals in the
future. "It's essential to help the industry survive the side-effects of the
global financial crisis," he said. "But we also need a long-term vision to
build this industry well into the future, one that addresses key challenges
like infrastructure, the environment, and trade imbalances." Lewenza called on
the federal government to recommit to the work of the Canadian Automotive
Partnership Council, the multi-stakeholder body which has been developing a
long-run industrial policy for the automotive sector.
Chrysler employs more than 8000 CAW members at four facilities in Canada.
The union estimates that Chrysler accounts for a total of close to 70,000
direct and indirect jobs in Canada, $3 billion per year in personal incomes,
and over $1 billion per year in government tax revenues.
For further information:
For further information: CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, (cell)
(416) 302-1699 or John McClyment (cell), (416) 315-3202