Workers at General Motors' CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario are reeling from the news this morning that 625 workers will be laid off. This unexpected move comes as the plant will solely focus on production of the new Chevrolet Equinox. Production of the GMC Terrain which had been part of CAMI will move down to Mexico for the 2018 model. Not surprising, officials at Unifor are none too pleased with this.
“I’m shocked, it’s an absolute embarrassment on behalf of GM as far as I’m concerned,” said Mike Van Boekel, chairperson of Unifor Local 88 to London radio station AM980.
"It was previously announced with employees that the next generation GMC Terrain will be produced outside of CAMI. We have confirmed the production location to be Mexico," said GM Canada Corporate and Internal Communications manager Jennifer Wright to CBC News.
GM Spokesman Tom Wickam tells The Detroit News the decision is not because of Terrain production moving down to Mexico, but due to an expected decline in overall production at the plant. But Unifor Local 88 president Dan Borthwick tells CBC News that GM that when the news of the Terrain moving down to Mexico was announced, it was Unifor's understanding that no jobs would be lost.
"Our understanding [was] that we had sufficient production in the future and we would not be incurring any layoffs. Within a week or two weeks we get this horrible news this morning that 600 members would be laid off."
GM disputes this, saying in a statement it "provided Unifor advanced notification of labour impacts related to product changeovers and transition at its CAMI facility."
Nevertheless, Unifor is angry. Unifor President Jerry Dias blasted GM and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over the layoffs. He called the layoffs as “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."
“This decision reeks of corporate greed. It is not based on sales, it is an 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.”
Dias went on to say that he is all for President Donald Trump's plan to renegotiate NAFTA.
It should be noted that CAMI was not involved in contract negotiations last year as they are covered by a different labor agreement. Negotiations will begin sometime later this for a new labor agreement at CAMI.