TORONTO - Ford Canada employees have overwhelmingly endorsed a cost-cutting agreement reached with the automaker last week, the Canadian Auto Workers union said Sunday.

The agreement includes cuts to benefits, a reduction in vacation, break times and co-pays on health care, the same concessions given to Chrysler and General Motors earlier this year in order to stay competitive.

The deal will also see Ford go ahead with plans announced earlier to close its 1,400-employee plant in St. Thomas, Ont., which makes full-sized cars no longer in demand.

"No one should mistake workers' approval as satisfaction with the new agreement," CAW president Ken Lewenza said after members ratified the deal in two days of voting.

"Members had faith in the union to negotiate the best agreement possible and protect their interests over the long term, but the problems faced by the industry cannot be resolved at the bargaining table."

It is the second cost-cutting agreement reached between the CAW and Ford in 18 months.

"Our members have been dealing with terrible insecurity as a result of financial crisis and recession and this new agreement will give a greater deal of job security right until 2012," said Mike Vince, chairperson of the CAW-Ford bargaining committee.

The CAW represents about 7,000 Ford workers across the country.

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