Canadian auto strike likely to lead to further layoffs in US

Effects of the United Automobile Workers strike against General Motors of Canada continued to spread in the United States this week as GM closed or reduced operations in 13 plants, idling more than 20,000 workers because of severe parts shortages.

Most of the impact so far has been in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, and New York. Industry analysts say the Canadian strike could grow from a nuisance to a disaster for GM in about 10 days.

The UAW's Canadian members walked out Oct. 17 after rejecting contract terms similar to those accepted by the UAW in the US.

The Canadians want a separate and different labor agreement that would provide higher wage increases, but without as much job security.

Robert White, UAW Canadian regional director, said he is preparing the union's 36,000 GM strikers for ''what might have to be a long fight.''

The strikers are getting $85 a week (the equivalent of $64 in US dollars) in strike benefits. Canadian Ford and Chrysler unionists are being asked to accept substantial dues increases for a fund to help strikers.

General Motors assembly lines in the US depend upon parts from Canada and severe shortages are developing.

In reporting a 43.4 percent drop in third-quarter earnings, GM in Detroit reported the company's outlook for the remainder of 1984 is ''clouded by the strike against GM of Canada that affects other North American operations as well.''

Losses for GM in the quarter were blamed largely on the six-day strike in the US, and on a metal workers strike against GM's Opel subsidiary in Germany.

The two sides have been talking daily, but without ''real progress,'' in search of a common ground for a settlement. The Canadian UAW says further talks this week could indicate how long the walkout will continue. The last UAW strike in 1970 dragged on for 94 days.

Resentment from the strike is already building up in the UAW's GM plants in the US. A protracted walkout - causing high job losses - could split the auto union and create problems for UAW president Owen Bieber.

The GM settlement won easy ratification in the US, although a 42.6 percent ''no'' vote showed substantial dissatisfaction with the terms related mainly to the size of wage increases. The size of wage increases is the Canadian workers' major issue and reason for rejecting the terms.

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