Laid off auto workers struggle to pay debt, bills, CAW study finds

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TORONTO - A new report on the CAW's three-year study of laid-off auto workers finds that more than half of them have had to seek financial help from family and friends in order to pay the bills.

The second round of findings from the union's Worker Adjustment Tracking Study found that 55 per cent of laid off workers surveyed from March 2011 to February 2012 have relied on financial support from family and friends.

The report also found that reliance on temporary employment agency work has increased over the study period, with about 30 per cent of all workers reporting temporary employment.

Many older workers surveyed said they had delayed retirement as a result of their lay-off.

The study, sponsored by the Canadian Auto Workers union, tracks the impact of being out of work among 260 laid-off auto industry workers as part of a three-year project and follows on initial findings from 2009.

The CAW, which has members at the Canadian operations of General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and many smaller automotive manufacturers provided an advance copy of the report ahead of its official release Thursday.

About 40 per cent of those studied said they had difficulty paying off their debts.

"Many workers, including those currently employed report a financial debt legacy associated with their lay-offs that continues," the report finds.

"This includes ongoing repayment of loans from family and friends, credit card debt, depleted savings and retirement funds, and financial losses associated with the sale of family assets such as homes and vehicles."

Nearly one-third of those surveyed said uncertainty over their employment situation often interfered with their family or personal lives.

The study also finds that two-thirds of workers had enrolled in a retraining program and about 90 per cent completed their programs.

The project focused on job market experiences of laid off manufacturing workers in Ontario.

Over the past 10 years, Canada has lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs, including nearly 300,000 across Ontario.

Organizations: Canadian Auto Workers union, General Motors, Chrysler

Geographic location: TORONTO, Ontario, Canada

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