General Motors CEO will resign: White House

General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday.

General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday.

The news comes on the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama's unveiling of his plan to reinvigorate the U.S. auto industry.

Obama and other administration officials have said they will demand deeper restructuring from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC before they get any more government loans.

Both companies are surviving on a total of $17.4 billion US in government aid from Washington.

Appearing on the CBS show Face the Nation in a Sunday broadcast, Obama said the Detroit automakers and all those with a stake in their survival need to take more hard steps to help them restructure for the future and receive additional government aid.

"They're not there yet," he said.

Wagoner's departure indicates that more management changes may be part of the bailout deal. Wagoner has repeatedly said he felt it was better for GM if he led it through the crisis.

Wagoner, 56, joined the company in 1977, serving in several capacities in the United States, Brazil and Europe. He's been CEO since May 1, 2003.

Resignation worries Canadian Auto Workers

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union said Wagoner's departure, combined with the release of Obama's restructuring plan for the U.S. auto industry, are making Canadian employees extremely nervous about the future.

"That just puts all of us on more pins and needles," Ken Lewenza said. "It leaves us all in this… emotional state of, What happens next?

"I never, ever thought the White House or the Parliament of Canada could manage and operate an automobile company," he said.

Lewenza said Wagoner's departure is unfortunate because he is a "car man" and given the troubles that GM is facing, now is not the best time for a shakeup at head office.

That the White House said it orchestrated Wagoner's departure is also worrying, Lewenza said. "It would reflect a lack of confidence in the business plan of General Motors."

Canadian restructuring plans due Tuesday

GM Canada and Chrysler Canada are supposed to submit finalized restructuring plans, including new labour contracts, to the federal and Ontario governments by March 31 in order to receive the billions in aid they have requested. GM Canada is seeking up to $7 billion in government loans, while Chrysler Canada has asked for about $2.8 billion.

Chrysler and the CAW have been holding talks but remain far apart on a deal on wage concessions, according to Lewenza.

The union reached a deal with GM earlier this month that would cut labour costs by about $7 an hour.

However, Chrysler is demanding more concessions than the union made to GM. Ford of Canada has also called the agreement with GM insufficient for its needs.

With files from the Associated Press and the Canadian Press