A federal judge has granted a permanent order sought by unionised workers that bars ArvinMeritor from reducing retiree health-care benefits for workers at factories it has sold or closed.

According to Reuters, the permanent injunction granted by a federal judge in Detroit on 17 August marks the latest development in a series of class-action lawsuits that have blocked changes to retiree health care that had been scheduled to take effect at the start of this year.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arvin Meritor reportedly said the federal judge in Detroit had granted a request by the United Auto Workers union to make a preliminary injunction dating back to December permanent.

The federal court also ordered the company to reimburse retirees for any out-of-pocket health-care benefits that they had to pay as a result of the company's action, the report added.

The court earlier had ordered the company to resume paying the full cost of health benefits for UAW retirees at the levels at which it had paid before cost-cutting programmes in 2002 and 2004, Arvin Meritor said, according to Reuters.

Arvin Meritor said it would appeal the decision, the report noted. "The company continues to believe it has meritorious defences to these action," the company reportedly said in its filing with securities regulators.

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