GM threat dec­la­ra­tion of ‘war’

Uni­for na­tional pres­i­dent says au­tomaker’s threat re­veals ‘the ugly side of NAFTA’

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS - DAVID PADDON THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Gen­eral Mo­tors has de­clared “war on Canada” by threat­en­ing to move more pro­duc­tion of the Equinox sport util­ity ve­hi­cle from On­tario to Mex­ico, Uni­for na­tional pres­i­dent Jerry Dias said.

Dias said the au­tomaker told his union bluntly on Wed­nes­day that Equinox pro­duc­tion in Mex­ico is be­ing ramped up and pro­duc­tion at its CAMI plant in Inger­soll, Ont., would wind down if Uni­for Lo­cal 88 con­tin­ues its 25-day-old strike.

He said Gen­eral Mo­tors is tak­ing ad­van­tage of the low pay scales for Mex­i­can work­ers at the ex­pense of higher-paid work­ers in the United States and Canada, as per­mit­ted by the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“Gen­eral Mo­tors did de­clare war on Canada,” Dias said, in a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day from Wash­ing­ton, D.C., where NAFTA trade talks are be­ing held.

“This is GM say­ing to us — and say­ing to Canada — we’re go­ing to ramp up pro­duc­tion in Mex­ico and we’re go­ing to flood the North Amer­i­can mar­ket from cars built in Mex­ico.”

Gen­eral Mo­tors Canada did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Spokes­peo­ple for Uni­for Lo­cal 88 de­clined to com­ment.

Dias said Uni­for won’t back down about the CAMI plant and sug­gested the union could broaden its ef­forts to de­fend Uni­for jobs through­out On­tario’s auto sec­tor.

The CAMI plant is a prime ex­am­ple of a trend that has been hap­pen­ing for years, with GM adding plants in Mex­ico while clos­ing Cana­dian and U.S. plants, Dias said.

“This is the ugly side of NAFTA, that peo­ple don’t want to talk about.

“Mex­i­can work­ers are be­ing ex­ploited and, as a re­sult of that, we’re los­ing hun­dreds and hun­dreds of thou­sands of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs in Canada and the United States. It has to stop.”

The union leader made his com­ments as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was be­gin­ning an of­fi­cial visit to Mex­ico as ne­go­tia­tors for the two coun­tries con­tinue NAFTA talks with the United States in Wash­ing­ton.

Ear­lier this week, Trudeau met with politi­cians and busi­ness lead­ers in Wash­ing­ton as part of his govern­ment’s NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tion strat­egy.

DAVE CHIDLEY/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Jerry Dias says GM told the union pro­duc­tion would slow in Inger­soll, Ont., if Uni­for Lo­cal 88 con­tin­ues its strike.

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