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    GM reverses course, says strikers will keep health coverage

    DETROIT (AP) — General Motors (GM) now said striking workers will get company-paid health insurance, nine days after telling the union that coverage would be cut off.

    The automaker said in an emailed letter to the United Auto Workers (UAW) dated on Wednesday that employee health and well-being are GM’s top priorities.

    The about-face came after workers howled and GM received withering criticism from politicians and on social media about cutting off the benefits.

    “These irresponsible actions by General Motors are toying with the lives of hundreds of thousands of our UAW families,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes wrote in a letter on Thursday to GM’s Vice President of Labour Relations Scott Sandefur. Dittes wrote that public sentiment would “see these actions of GM as a shameful act!”

    It wasn’t clear how the rhetoric or the health care spat would affect contract talks aimed at ending the strike by 49,000 workers that has shut down manufacturing for nearly two weeks at more than 30 GM plants across the United States (US).

    “This is an attempt to do what’s right for our employees,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said.

    It’s normal procedure in strikes for the cost of healthcare to shift from the company, which is largely self-insured, to the union.

    Workers and their supporters picket outside a General Motors facility in Langhorne, Pa. PHOTO: AP

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