2009 Auto Restructuring
Meridian Not Prepared to Pay Worker Severance, CAW Told
BRANTFORD - Auto parts workers in Brantford, Ontario should not expect any severance pay from their employer in the event that their plant is closed, CAW officials were told yesterday after closed door meetings with representatives of Meridian Automotive Systems.
The meeting was called after two days of round the clock worker demonstrations in front of the company's Brantford facility. Workers took to the street in protest after learning one of Meridian's major customers was attempting to remove its tools and molding from the facility, said Jerry Dias, Assistant to CAW National President Ken Lewenza.
"The plant is currently running at reduced capacity and heading into a
regularly scheduled summer shutdown period when word came out that the plant
was being hollowed out," Dias said. "It's a slap in the face to these workers
who have worked tirelessly for this employer. It's simply outrageous."
Meridian's assets were recently put up for sale, all except for six of
the company's North American facilities, including the Brantford plant which
makes a variety of plastic molding components for companies like Honda and
CAW Kitchener Area Director Steve Farkas said that the threat of a plant
closing was always in the minds of workers, despite the fact that the company
had never issued a formal notice to the workers of an impending closure.
"Not only did the company refuse to commit that they would pay worker
severance in the event of a closure, as required under law, they refused to
commit that they would re-open the facility following the summer shutdown,"
"I have no doubt these workers would have come back to work on their
scheduled return date (July 13) only to find the plant doors locked and learn
they were out of a job."
Dias said the demonstration will continue outside the facility, until
there is a resolve on the issue of severance payments. The plant is still
fully operational with a skeleton staff working as scheduled.
There are currently 90 workers employed at the Brantford facility, down
from a peak of 600 in 2000. The workers are members of CAW Local 636.
CAW members from local unions across Southern Ontario are expected to
join the demonstrators in a show of solidarity in the coming days.