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OSHAWA, Ont. - A ramped up protest against General Motors saw a parade of politicians this week supporting the men and women fighting to save their livelihoods, but workers blocking a corporate office building said Saturday they had seen more photo-ops and heard more platitudes than any real solutions.

The workers have been staging a round-the-clock blockade since Wednesday, barring management from their office building, after learning the day before that the truck assembly line in Oshawa is slated to close in 2009, along with three other plants in North America.

What angers workers the most is the fact the announcement came just two weeks after they signed a new collective agreement, which they say contained a promise the truck plant would build a new hybrid truck, giving them work until at least 2011.

Provincial and federal politicians visited the protest over the course of the week, shaking hands and decrying General Motors' move, and those who didn't visit weighed in all the same.

Workers say it has all left them feeling like they're caught in the middle of a game of political hot potato.

"We haven't heard any solutions yet in the way of what they're going to do," said Ron Schindler, who has worked at GM for 15 years.

"They've come shaking hands, but we need some actual movement from them. Until we get that movement, we're on our own."

Movement from the workers came Saturday in the form of a temporary plant shutdown. About 100 protesters hopped into their cars early in the morning and drove around the nearby car and truck plants. The slow-moving convoy circling the plants effectively blocked trucks from delivering parts, so union spokesman Keith Osborne said it meant people inside couldn't do any work for a few hours.

"General Motors experienced a little bit of heartburn today," said Canadian Auto Workers Local 222 president Chris Buckley. "That's nothing compared to what 2,600 of my members feel every day right now. It's a lot more than heartburn."

Buckley said workers will continue to occupy the road in front of GM's corporate office in Oshawa, saying the protest wouldn't end any time soon. As for his next move, Buckley was keeping his cards close to his chest, as he has been since the dispute began.

"Just wait and see," he said.

GM spokesman Stew Low confirmed that the plant had "lost a bit of production" as a result of the convoy Saturday and called the action "disappointing."

"I would certainly hope that there won't be any more interruptions of production," he added. "It's important that we build the orders that customers have given us.

"So far, with all the protests and things that have gone on this week, we haven't had any interruptions. This was the first today, but our preference would be not to have it happen again, obviously.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, along with MPs Judy Sgro and Dan McTeague and a throng of Liberals from the local riding association, met Saturday with protesters. Dion talked of hope for the auto industry and a need to boost investment to the sector, but offered little in the way of specific solutions, said protesters.

"I will obviously take support from any politician," said Jim Freeman, 53, who has worked at the truck plant for 25 years. "But ones that just show up for a photo-op, to me it just sounds mostly like politics."

NDP Leader Jack Layton attended the protest Saturday for the second day in a row, and told those gathered that the party's national council would bring in an emergency resolution Saturday afternoon, calling on all party members to support the protest. He also said he would attempt to bring down the government through a budget vote on Monday for, among other things, a lack of solutions for auto workers.

When it was suggested to Buckley that the Liberal leader might side with the government on the budget vote, he said: "Then Stephane Dion wasted his time coming here today, he really did."

"If he's not going to join with us and challenge the current government, he needs not spend any more time coming down here to pretend he cares about working people."
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