REFILE-CAW union blasts Ottawa on lack of auto aid plan


(Refiles to fix typo in headline)

By John McCrank

TORONTO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - The leadership of the Canadian Auto Workers union blasted the Conservative government on Friday, saying it has played down the economic crisis and has failed to address the problems in the auto industry.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty "has failed miserably," said Jim Stanford, the CAW's economist, at a meeting in Toronto the union called to discuss the slumping auto sector.

"He has a rose colored forecast where he says it's not going to be a big crisis... he called it a technical recession. Well excuse me, Mr. Flaherty, get your ass out of Ottawa, go into one of our communities, see someone losing their job, losing their home -- that's not a goddamn technical recession, that's a crisis," Stanford said.

The union also lambasted Industry Minister Tony Clement for suggesting the federal government would not aid the auto sector if the CAW would not agree to wage concessions.

"This isn't about Canadian Auto Workers' wages and benefits, this is about a global financial crisis," said union President Ken Lewenza.

He said that even if all the unionized auto workers in Canada, as well as management, were to work for free for an entire year, it would only offset the Detroit Big Three's average 2008 losses for 11 days.

The union pointed to a study by Ottawa-based economic consultants Informetrica Inc that said if just one of the Big Three -- General Motors Corp , Chrysler LLC [CBS.UL] and Ford Motor Co -- were to close its doors, it would result in the loss of 155,000 jobs in Canada and cost Canadian governments C$6 billion ($4.9 billion) a year in lost revenue.

"If the industry goes down, one in seven jobs in Canada is in jeopardy and the economy will fall further into decline," warned Lewenza.

John Gray, the mayor of Oshawa, Ontario, which is bracing for the loss of about 2,600 jobs when GM shuts its truck plant there on May 14, said the federal government needs to act now or thousands more jobs will be lost.

Ottawa has said it wants to see evidence that the automakers have plans to turn their business around before it gives them any aid. But Gray said he would like to see the federal government's figures to see if their planning is sound.

"Have they done the business plan and have they done the analysis that, if they let the auto industry go, what will be the real cost? Ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be a lot more than the C$5 billion here in Canada," said Gray.

The C$5 billion refers to the amount of aid some auto analysts have said would be appropriate for Canada to deliver to the auto companies. The Detroit Three have about 14 to 15 percent of their auto manufacturing capacity in Canada.

U.S. lawmakers are meeting with the auto companies on Dec. 2, when they will present their business plans and make the case for a minimum of $25 billion in immediate low-interest loans from Washington.

Gerard Kennedy, industry critic for the opposition Liberal Party, called on the Conservative government to move on a bailout plan for the auto sector before that date, or risk taking a sharp economic hit.

"If Canada is not responding as quickly, then jobs will be siphoned over the border to the United States, because you can be sure the U.S. Congress won't look after jobs in Canada," Kennedy told Reuters after the meeting. ($1=$1.24 Canadian) (Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson)



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