Monday, October 20, 2008

Chrysler cuts shift at Windsor plant

Posted by businessnewss in Uncategorized.

Chrysler said Friday it will eliminate one shift at its Windsor, Ont., assembly plant over the next three weeks.

The car manufacturer informed the Canadian Auto Workers Union Friday afternoon that it will eliminate the afternoon shift for the first two weeks. In the third week, the midnight shift will be temporarily laid off.

Chrysler said it will re-evaluate the situation after three weeks.

CAW local 444 President Rick Laporte said he’s aware the company is trying to re-adjust inventory since minivan sales have dropped.

“My understanding is the minivan sales have really fallen off; my understanding is they have actually fallen off 25 per cent,” said Laporte, whose local represents about 5,000 workers at the Windsor minivan assembly plant. “There’s no orders ? the dealer’s have got all they need at this point in time, so that’s why they’re slowing down.”

Each shift employs between 1,200 and 1,500 workers. The employees will be able to file for unemployment insurance and supplementary unemployment benefits.

At one point on Friday afternoon, Laporte said he was told by the company there was no plan to eliminate any of the three shifts at the plant.

“How can you tell me one thing at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and at 3 p.m. come out with a whole other different thing?” he said.

Laporte said that besides the Chrysler workers, the elimination of the one shift will affect thousands of employees at plants that supply parts for the minivan.

Feeder plants also affected

“There will be a lot of feeder plants affected, also having shifts on layoffs. So that only adds to the 1,200 people at the Windsor assembly plant and about another 4,000 in Essex county who will feel the pinch here as well.”

Windsor has one of the highest unemployement rates in the country.

Friday’s news came in the same week that Daimler AG announced it was closing its truck-making factory in St. Thomas, Ont., as part of a strategy to pare down ailing truck operations and save $600 million US.

The St. Thomas operation employs approximately 1,400 workers and was already scheduled to lose 720 jobs as the company eliminated a second shift at the plant. Daimler said it will shut the operation entirely by March 2009.

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