Thousands of General Motors workers, members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), turned out at meetings in Oshawa, St. Catharines, London, Windsor, and Woodstock to hear details of the 2002 tentative agreement. Seventy-two percent of the 19,000 workers voted in favour of ratifying the agreement.

According to Reuters, the highlights of the three-year deal include a 3% wage increase in the first two years of the contract and a 2% hike in the third year; a $C1,000 ($US633.00) signing bonus; 36 hours in additional paid time off and improved healthcare benefits.

The CAW said the new agreement provides for improved job and income security, including a commitment by GM of $C800 million slated for investments in Oshawa and St. Catharines, which will also create jobs.

The CAW today chose Ford as its next target for this year's 'Big Three' negotiations.

Reuters said that talks are not expected to go as smoothly as they did for the two sides in the GM talks.

The key issue in the negotiations remains the union's opposition to Ford's planned closing of its Ontario Truck Plant in Oakville, Ontario which the union has vowed to fight aggressively to keep open, Reuters added.

The union is also fighting the potential closure of Chrysler's Pillette Road plant in Windsor, Ontario, Reuters said.