Cami clash in Inger­sol, stud­ies show, comes as auto bucks head south

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - JONATHAN SHER

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.”

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