CAW OKs deal

Canadian Auto Workers members have voted in favour of a cost-cutting deal with General Motors, a key hurdle for the automaker that was a condition of billions in government loans.

TORONTO — Canadian Auto Workers members have voted in favour of a cost-cutting deal with General Motors, a key hurdle for the automaker that was a condition of billions in government loans.

The union said Monday night that its members voted 86 per cent in favour of the deal over two days of voting at its four locations in Ontario.

In a statement released late Monday night, GM Canada welcomed the ratification.

The automaker said it will continue to work with Ottawa and the Ontario government and its other key partners to complete its restructuring.

CAW national president Ken Lewenza said this new deal should provide a much-needed sense of security to the workers and retirees.

“Although we were forced to make a number of important sacrifices, the support we received from our members is proof that they recognize the incredible challenges the industry is facing, but more importantly that they are prepared to stand by each other and stand with their union,” Lewenza said in a statement.

GM is working towards having a restructuring plan by June 1.

The agreement freezes workers’ pension benefits until 2015 and slashes labour costs by $15 to $16 an hour through cuts to benefits. The union has also agreed to negotiate a health-care trust, which it will administer to cover retirees’ benefits.

Under the deal, the company also agreed that it would give up its special status under Ontario law — a status that has allowed it to underfund its pension plan since the 1990s — and begin topping it up immediately.

The company must now turn its attention to completing its restructuring plan to present to governments in Canada and the U.S. by next Monday.

GM Canada’s parent company, General Motors Corp., has been unable to reach an agreement with its bondholders, and it is widely assumed the company will be forced to file for bankruptcy protection in the United States to work out a solution.

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