World frontline automaker, General Motors Company (GM motors) is looking at alternative plants for production of the popular Chevrolet Equinox SUV as a strike at a Canadian factory drags into its fourth week despite GM threat to close down the factory.
The company is at a deadlock with striking workers at the plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, and feels that it has no choice but to start exploring other locations. The Equinox, which was just redesigned this year, is also produced at two plants in Mexico.
GM is trying to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement while the Unifor labour union seems to be more focused on negotiating a trade agreement, the official said. While most of the economic issues are resolved, according to GM, the main sticking point is Unifor’s demand that the Ingersoll plant be designated the lead producer for the Equinox, meaning any production cutbacks would affect Mexico first.
Unifor President Jerry Dias has said repeatedly that the strike represents everything that’s wrong with the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being renegotiated. Nafta was implemented in 1994, bringing Mexico into the flow of tariff-free auto trade on the continent. Canada lost more than 53,000 automotive jobs from 2001 to 2014, according to the Automotive Policy Research Centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
General Motors Company had on Wednesday warned leaders of Canada’s Unifor labor union that it will start to wind down production of its popular Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle at an Ontario factory unless workers there call off a month-long strike.
The strike has been fuelled by union’s opposition of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Unifor leader Jerry Dias said Wednesday that GM officials said they would increase production of the vehicle at two plants in Mexico that build the Equinox and a similar model, the GMC Terrain if the walkout is not called off, adding “They have declared war on Canada.”
Reports said that GM has plants in the United States that are under-utilized, but retooling them to build the Equinox would be expensive.
GM plans to study how quickly key suppliers to the Ontario Equinox plant could move their operations to accommodate a shift in the vehicle’s production, a person familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday.
GM’s decision to build the Equinox and Terrain in Mexico is a major issue in the contract dispute between the automaker and the Canadian union.