Cami clash in Ingersol, studies show, comes as auto bucks head south
Four weeks into the strike at the Cami auto plant in Ingersoll, a new report paints a bleak picture of investment in Canada’s auto industry still rebounding to pre-recession levels.
With job security a key issue in the walkout at the General Motorsowned plant, and the Unifor union pushing to have it designated a lead producer for the hot-selling Chevrolet Equinox, the strike intersects directly with the loss noted in the report of industry investment to low-wage Mexico and the southern U.S.
Capital investment in the Canadian auto assembly sector since the 2008 financial crisis — which hit the industry hard — has been cut nearly in half compared with the period before the downturn, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants reported Wednesday.
Capital spending for Canada’s motor vehicle assembly industry has averaged $1.2 billion a year for 2010-17, the company’s report said, down from $2.3 billion a year on average from 2000-09.
Meanwhile, average new capital expenditures for the parts and accessories industry dropped to $565.9 million from $887.7 million for the same periods.
“Despite small occasional increases in the period between 2008 and 2017, there has been no sustained indication of a return to the heights recorded in the mid- to late ’90s and late 2000s,” DesRosiers said. “Canada’s loss of investment market share to Mexico and the southern U.S. over this period has been well documented.”
The 2,800 Cami workers walked out Sept. 17, seeking guarantees the plant will remain the main producer of the Equinox and seeking to prevent work moving to Mexico, where GM also produces the popular sport utility vehicle.
Asked if GM had clearly communicated whether it had rejected the union’s demand for a letter guaranteeing job security, Unifor Local 88 president Don Borthwick said Wednesday, “Ask GM.”