Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chrysler Canada assembly plants shut down

Chrysler's Canadian assembly plants shut down indefinitely Friday, a byproduct of the company's bankruptcy protection filing the day before in the United States.

Both of the company's Ontario assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton are now closed as their stream of parts from suppliers has dried up.

Roughly 2,700 employees at the Brampton plant and 4,400 in Windsor are affected by the shutdowns.

A Chrysler parts plant in Etobicoke is still operating, but it will shut down in 10 days, affecting 300 workers, said Mary Gauthier, a Chrysler spokeswoman.

Chrysler LLC, the Canadian company's U.S. parent, said Thursday that all of its plants would be closed down for 30 to 60 days while it went through restructuring under court-ordered creditor protection.

Chrysler Canada has not filed for bankruptcy protection.

Hearings on Chrysler LLC's creditor protection filing began Friday in a New York City court. Bankruptcy court Judge Arthur Gonzalez approved a motion from Chrysler to allow the automaker to pay its employees and contract workers pre-bankruptcy wages, benefits and business expenses.

As part of Chrysler's restructuring plan, Italy's Fiat Group SpA will partner with Chrysler to give it technology and commit to building cars at Chrysler plants.

A retiree benefits trust will wind up with 55 per cent ownership of the revamped Chrysler. While Fiat will get an initial stake of 20 per cent, it could wind up with as much as 35 per cent.

The U.S. government is getting an eight per cent stake, while the Canadian government, which is contributing about $3.9 billion to Chrysler, will get a two per cent stake.