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By Ben Klayman
DETROIT, June 10 (Reuters) - General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Tuesday that no more employee dismissals were planned relating to the company’s handling of a defective ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths.
“We feel we’ve taken the appropriate actions as it relates to the ignition switch recall,” Barra told reporters ahead of an annual shareholders meeting, when asked whether GM would dismiss or discipline any more staff for the company’s poor handling of the faulty part.
Since early this year, the Detroit automaker has been enveloped in a scandal over why it took more than a decade to begin recalling low-cost Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with ignition-switch problems that were causing them to stall during operation.
When those engines stalled, air bags failed to deploy during crashes - some of them fatal - and drivers struggled to control their vehicles as power steering and brake systems malfunctioned.
GM fired 15 employees last week and five were disciplined due to their handling of the switch recall. It announced the departures along with the results of an internal probe.
Barra said Tuesday the internal report was a fulcrum for change.
“It’s not about putting behind us, it’s about using the learnings and the failing that we had, to make sure that we improve the whole development process and the culture, which we’re continuing to work on,” she said.
The company plans to set up a fund to compensate victims of crashes linked to the faulty switches. GM has said the number of deaths linked to the defective part may rise and Barra reiterated on Tuesday that fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg would determine that number.
Editing by Bernadette Baum