Posted July 2, 2009
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 Xerox.

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," Farkas said.

"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.

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