Strikes Weigh on General Motors Production

A truck plant in Canada is back on line but others across U.S. and Canada are still shut due to strikes.

General Motors Corp. on April 21 managed to resume truck production at a key Canadian plant but a dozen plants in the U.S. and Mexico remain shuttered by strikes. GM managed to get the Oshawa, Ontario truck plant in Canada back on line by bringing in the limited number of parts produced by American Axle's plant in Mexico which was not affected by the strike. Plants in Texas and Mexico which had been using those parts are now closed.

Some 30 GM plants are affected by a nearly two month-long strike at key supplier and former subsidiary American Axle and Manufacturing Holding Inc.

A key sports utility vehicle plant in Lansing, Mich. was also shut down last week when GM workers walked out during negotiations over a local contract. "We continue to bargain at that striking plant and the three others that are looming," GM spokesman Dan Flores said.

Analysts have suggested that the United Auto Workers union could be using this local strike to pressure GM to step into its flagging negotiations with American Axle. "We suspect the union may have marginal luck, but at the same time, such a motivation (if true) would indicate signs of the union's frustration (by both the UAW leadership and the rank-and-file) at the slow rate of progress in the American Axle dispute," JPMorgan Chase analyst Himanshu Patel said.

Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache has estimated that the strike could be costing GM as much as $300 million a week.

GM said earlier this month that the first few weeks of the strike had cut production by about 100,000 vehicles.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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