By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ) – As General Motors puts two engineers on leave without pay, the company also says it will do even more extensive repairs to the 2.6 million vehicles that it’s recalling for faulty ignition switches.

The company says that it will replace ignition lock cylinders to the ignition switches it’s replacing. That will take care of another complaint involving the recalled vehicles.

“The cylinders can allow removal of the ignition key while the engine is running, leading to a possible rollaway, crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries,” read a statement sent to WWJ by General Motors.

The suspensions of the engineers come as General Motors conducts an internal investigation into the recall, trying to determine why it took so long, and if there was any deception.

“This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement released Thursday. “It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM.”

GM did not release the employees names, or say what they may have done. Some internal documents released earlier indicated some workers may have violated company procedures, and may have been less than honest.

“It’s important for the company to get an understanding of what was going on, when it was going on, who was involved,” said analyst Bill Visnic.

During her appearances before Congress, Mary Barra promised that GM would discipline, and even terminate any employee found to have been involved in wrong-doing.

Visnic said it was too early to tell if any other GM employees will be singled out.

“It depends on how much, are individuals involved, or does it end up being an indictment of GM’s processes.”

General Motors is making some changes to its processes to try to speed up the flow of information about safety issues. At a Thursday town hall with workers, Barra announced a new program called Speak Up for Safety.

“GM must embrace a culture where safety and quality come first,” Barra said. “GM employees should raise safety concerns quickly and forcefully, and be recognized for doing so.”

The company’s new chief of global safety, Jeff Boyer, said it’s a way to empower workers to report safety issues, and get management involved quickly.

“In any large organization, communication is always a challenge,” he said. “What this does is allow us to have a dialogue.”

The costs of the recalls are mounting. General Motors now says it will take a $1.3 billion dollar charge against its first quarter earnings to pay for repairs, loaner cars and other recall-related issues.

That financial report will be released April 24th.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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