GM sets sights on Canada, union­ist says

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - NOR­MAN DE BONO

Gen­eral Mo­tors has “de­clared war” on Canada by ramp­ing up pro­duc­tion of its Equinox ve­hi­cle in Mex­ico, Uni­for pres­i­dent Jerry Dias charged Thurs­day.

The au­tomaker’s move to as­sem­ble more of the cross­over sport util­ity ve­hi­cles — now made at the Cami plant in Inger­soll, whose 2,800 work­ers are four weeks into a strike — at two Mex­i­can op­er­a­tions is a slap in the face of the com­pany’s lo­cal work­ers, said Dias.

“This means the strike at Cami will con­tinue. It means GM is declar­ing war on Canada,” Dias said Thurs­day.

Work­ers walked off the job on Sept. 17, largely in a fight over job se­cu­rity lan­guage. The union wants a pledge the lo­cal as­sem­bler will main­tain three shifts of work or more pro­duc­tion than in Mex­ico.

“We are sick and tired of los­ing the auto in­dus­try and now GM is say­ing they are ramp­ing up pro­duc­tion in Mex­ico,” said Dias.

“The re­al­ity is Cami work­ers have been work­ing six days a week for eight years and all we are ask­ing for is if there is a loss of vol­ume, they take it out of Mex­ico first.”

But Dias should dial down the harsh rhetoric, be­cause GM Canada has in­vested $800 mil­lion in the Cami plant, as well as its Oshawa plant and St. Catharines engine op­er­a­tions, said Tony Faria, an eco­nomics pro­fes­sor and au­to­mo­tive an­a­lyst at the Univer­sity of Wind­sor.

“He is tak­ing this too far. GM has in no way de­clared war. It has staked out a po­si­tion with re­gard to ne­go­ti­at­ing pro­duc­tion at an as­sem­bly plant,” said Faria.

GM’s Oshawa as­sem­bly plant has re­ceived over­flow pro­duc­tion of the Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pickup truck, and added 500 jobs, as a re­sult of the deal reached in 2016 con­tract talks between Uni­for and the au­tomaker.

In re­cent years, GM has in­vested $800-mil­lion in Cami, in re­tool­ing for new ma­chin­ery and re­tool­ing for the new-look Equinox, which in­cludes $250-mil­lion for a new body shop

The au­tomaker also has in­vested $150 mil­lion in re­search and de­vel­op­ment in St. Catharines, he added.

“That is a far bet­ter in­di­ca­tion of sup­port for the Cana­dian in­dus­try than what Uni­for is ask­ing for,” said Faria.


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