The ongoing recall saga at General Motors sees more action as CEO Mary Barra announced this morning that she has fired fifteen people over their roles in the fatally flawed ignition switches. Those switches, you’ll remember, were linked to thirteen deaths in crashes because they’d deactivated the airbags in the vehicle.
Although she would not identify those who had been fired or the five others who were disciplined, she did comment that “a disproportionate number of those were in senior roles or executives.” The five who were disciplined (no detail as to how discipline was meted out) were “one level removed” from the fatal decisions but had enough knowledge that they could have taken action and failed to do so.
According to Barra, the whole ignition switch problem was a “misdiagnosis.” GM engineers thought it to be an owner satisfaction problem and not a safety issue, apparently not realizing that the failed switches were shutting off power to the airbag system.
The firings come after a report Barra commissioned, now known as the Valukas Report after former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas who conducted it, showed the fundamental failures in the way GM dealt with the ignition switch issue. Barra called the Valukas report “enormously painful.”
Barra made the announcements at a GM-wide meeting in front of over a thousand employees in Warren, Michigan and broadcast live to other GM facilities around the country. A short press conference convened immediately afterwards.
The company has announced that compensation will be paid to those affected by the ignition switches, including the families of the 13 who’ve died and others who’ve been injured because of them.