Union boosts strike pay for GM workers as talks continue

NEW YORK (AP) – United Auto Workers (UAW) said last Saturday it’s increasing strike pay for workers picketing at General Motors as the walkout by more than 49,000 employees nears the four-week mark.

The union said last Saturday that weekly pay will rise to USD275 from USD250 for members on strike, effective today. It moves up the timing of a USD25 weekly raise that had been planned to go into effect on January 1. The union also voted to allow members to take part-time jobs and continue to receive strike pay, as long as they perform their picket duty.

The moves came as UAW and General Motors continued contract talks last Saturday, a day after the union made a counterproposal to management.

Both sides discussed the issues that include wages, job security and investment in US plants.

Earlier in the week, the union and GM blamed each other for not making more progress toward an agreement on a new contract.

GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra stepped into the talks last Wednesday, asking the union to wrap up outstanding issues and respond to a company offer made last Monday.

The strike began on September 16 and shut down GM’s factories in the US Factories in Canada and Mexico were later forced to close due to a lack of parts.

The strike has passed the point where GM can make up lost production, according to auto industry analysts. Workers, meanwhile, have been depending on their strike pay rather than their full pay from GM of about USD1,200 per week before deductions.

Workers stay warm by a fire as they picket outside gate 2 at the General Motors Wentzville Assembly Centre in Wentzville, Missouri. PHOTO: AP