Canadian workers defy Chrysler

Canadian members of United Auto Workers (UAW) struck Chrysler plants Nov. 5, fulfilling a warning made in June that they would not join US locals in making concessions to employers, Monitor correspondent Ed Townsend reports. Ford and GM then negotiated modest raises for workers in Canada, but Chrysler refused immediate raises, causing the bargaining deadlock.

A 9,600-worker walkout in Windsor, Ajax, and Mississauga, Ontario, will start the layoff of some 2,500 workers in US parts plants this week. If the strike drags on (UAW spokesmen in Canada say it could last for months), as many as 6, 000 US workers in 16 US parts plants could be laid off.

Chrysler chairman Lee A. Iacocca warned that the walkout ''will cripple the company - perhaps ruin it.'' The struck plants are the sole producers of Chrysler vans and New Yorker and Imperial cars, Chryslers' best-selling models.

US Chrysler workers rejected a strike Nov. 1 over similar contract issues, agreeing to continue working under their expired contract until January. The union is hoping that Chrysler's financial position will be improved sufficiently in early 1983 to justify a substantially larger settlement that would include immediate wage increases.

But UAW officials in Detroit now see that possibility fading. Although they hoped Canadian locals would follow the US workers' lead, they were not surprised with the turn of events. Canadian workers in a number of industries have been increasingly more militant than their US counterparts, showing a growing spirit of nationalism and independence of US union control.

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