Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, blasted General Motors for the company’s decision to shift some production from Ingersoll, Ontario, to Mexico and vowed to pressure the Canadian government to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“This decision reeks of corporate greed. It is not based on sales, it is another example of how good jobs are being shifted out of Canada for cheaper labor in Mexico and Unifor will not let it happen without a fight,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
GM said it plans to lay off more than 600 workers at the CAMI–GM plant. The Ingersoll plant is not covered by the GM-Unifor contract reached last fall in which GM promised new investment at its Canadian factories.
The Ingersoll plant is currently the home of two of GM’s more popular vehicles, the Chevrolet Equinox and the GMC Terrain. GM is scheduled to release new versions of both vehicles this year and it now appears the will be built in both Canada and Mexico.
“The Equinox and Terrain are incredibly successful vehicles and given current market demand, there is no justification for layoffs at the CAMI facility,” added Dias, adding the union expects to 625 jobs as a result of GM’s decision.
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The projected volumes for Equinox production in Mexico has steadily risen during the past few years, while previously it was solely made in Canada, Unifor noted.
The CAMI–GM plant was not part of the Detroit Three negotiations this past fall where Unifor was able to secure a footprint and more than $1.5 billion in investment for production and jobs. While pledging the union’s full commitment to do all it can for its members Dias indicated that the announcement should be the last straw for the federal government and called for swift action.
Dias said the move is a betrayal and underscores why NAFTA is a terrible deal for Canadian jobs. With NAFTA under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, the GM decision is likely to put additional pressure on Justin Trudeau, the current Canadian prime minister, to demand sweeping changes to thee-nation trade pact adopted back in 1994.
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The Trump administration has also threatened to impose its so-called “border tax” on cars built in Canada.
“The CAMI announcement is a shining example of everything wrong with NAFTA, it must be re-negotiated. It is imperative that we have trade rules that help ensure good jobs in Canada,” Dias said.
Unifor is calling on Trudeau to set up mechanisms to restore a balance in jobs and investment to protect the Canadian economy and Canada’s auto industry. Unifor also asks the federal government to step up and act with confidence to protect jobs.
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With President Trump in the midst of a feud with Mexico over construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, NAFTA could soon be on life support.