Wed, Sep 21, 2016 - Page 10 News List

GM, Canadian union reach deal

‘OTHER WAY AROUND’:The agreement is to see the shifting of some volume of production from Mexico to Canada and ensure that GM keeps hiring employees

Reuters, TORONTO

Cars pass under an overpass at the General Motors car assembly plant in Oshawa, Canada, on June 1, 2012.

Photo: Reuters

General Motors Co and the Canadian autoworkers union, Unifor, early yesterday morning announced a tentative contract deal, averting a strike that would have shut some of the automaker’s Canadian manufacturing facilities.

Unifor said the tentative deal will prevent the closure of GM’s Oshawa assembly plant, bring some engine assembly from Mexico to GM’s St Catharines, Ontario facility and increase wages for existing employees.

Union members are to vote on the deal on Sunday.

“The commitment to Oshawa is hundreds of millions of dollars, therefore our fear of a closure in 2019 is now over,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said.

The union made a concession on pensions for new workers, agreeing to a pure defined contribution plan, the first such plan under the master agreement that covers most assembly workers at GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler.

Veteran employees have defined benefit pensions, and those hired since 2012 have a hybrid plan with defined benefit and defined contribution portions.

In a statement, GM Canada confirmed it had reached an agreement that would allow “significant new product, technology and process investments” in Oshawa and at the company’s St Catharines powertrain plant.

“We will be working with government on potential support and will provide further details on the investment at the appropriate time,” the company said.

Dias did not say what vehicle model or models would be built in Oshawa, but said the plant would become capable of producing both cars and trucks.

The plant currently builds cars.

Dias also said the agreement would ensure Oshawa hires workers in the short and long term, even as the scheduled closure of one of the plant’s two assembly lines, the consolidated line, goes ahead as planned next year.

He said some volume of engine production would shift from Mexico to St Catharines, the first time he can remember product moving from Mexico to Canada.

“We’ve seen enough of it going the other way around,” he said.

Under the union’s practice of pattern bargaining, the deal with GM sets a pattern that Ford and Fiat Chrysler would be expected to follow closely in their contracts.

A four-year contract covering about 20,000 Canadian autoworkers at the three automakers expired on Monday, but only GM workers were in a legal strike position yesterday.

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