From Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Canadian Auto Workers was pouring over legal documents Thursday night to see how much in benefits and pensions could be lost for hundreds of retirees and laid off workers at Oxford Automotive Canada.
Union officials told a Chatham, Ont., radio station that the company filed for bankruptcy last weekend.
Its parent company is headquarted in Troy, Mich., and supplies specialized welded metal assemblies and related services to the auto industry. Officials of the parent firm were unavailable for comment.
The bankruptcy filing comes months after the company closed a plant in Wallaceburg, Ont., northwest of Chatham. That closure impacted 620 hourly and salaried workers, including 320 who were already on layoff when the decision to shut down the Wallaceburg plant was announced late last year.
Another 325 workers were laid off in February 2002 at an Oxford plant in Chatham. The company also had a products facility in Cambridge, Ont.
The CAW’s pension and benefits department in Toronto was looking into the bankruptcy paperwork to see how benefits and pensions for retirees from Chatham and Cambridge, Ont., would be impacted, said union spokesman Jim Pare. The Wallaceburg workers are members of the U.S.-based United Auto Workers.
Early indications are that there is a shortfall in the pension plan for the former Chatham workers but it’s not clear how many workers from Oxford’s overall Canadian operations are in danger of losing benefits and pensions.
“There are negotiators right now evaluating what the exact numbers are going to be,” he said.
The Wallaceburg and Chatham workers were part of two separate pension plans.
Some of the lost pensions may be covered by the Ontario Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund, a provincial fund that helps cover some company pension plan shortfalls.
The closure in Wallaceburg in February was blamed on technological changes in the automotive industry that decreased the need for the leaf spring suspensions manufactured by the factory.
Copyright 2004 The Canadian Press. All Rights Reserved.
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