The union representing thousands of Canadian autoworkers says General Motors' plan to cut about 600 jobs at its CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., Jan. 27, “reeks of corporate greed” and is reason enough to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
GM currently builds the GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox there. But the company is shifting production of the Terrain to a facility in Mexico in July, therefore scaling back total volume output of the Equinox at the CAMI plant.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias called the decision “a betrayal, and shows why NAFTA is a terrible deal for Canadian jobs.”
“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 labour in Mexico and Unifor will not let it happen without a fight,” Dias said. “The Equinox and Terrain are incredibly successful vehicles and given current market demand, there is no justification for lay-offs at the CAMI facility.”
Canadian sales of the existing Equinox fell three per cent to 19,197 units in 2016. In the United States, the drop was bigger, with sales falling 13 per cent to 242,195 units in 2016.
Sales of the GMC Terrain were up two per cent in Canada in 2016.
General Motors spokeswoman Jennifer Wright called the moves “a natural course of business” and said future production volumes of the Equinox at the CAMI plant are “subject to market demand.”
No relation to Mexico
“The notices have no relation to the Terrain or Mexico. This is strictly related to the end of the older generation Equinox production at CAMI in July,” Wright said in response to Dias. “We are losing the benefit of temporary overlap in production of the old and new Equinox in July.”
However, Dias said that "according to industry data, the projected volumes for Equinox production in Mexico has steadily risen over the past few years, while previously it was solely made in Canada.”
The Equinox has been made in Spring Hill, Tenn. Beyond a plan to move 2017 overflow production of the current model to Mexico from Spring Hill, it has never seen sustained production in Mexico.
About production of the next generation Equinox, Wight said: “We haven't announced additional production locations for the Equinox, outside of CAMI.”
Reuters news agency reported in 2014 that GM plans to shift some production of the Equinox to Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, when the crossover vehicle is redesigned in 2017.
Dias said the cuts in Ingersoll and shift to Mexico “should be the last straw for the federal government and called for swift action” on the renegotiation of NAFTA.
Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to interview requests from Automotive News Canada.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he intends to renegotiate the free trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico, and end it altogether if he can’t get a “fair deal” for American workers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already said he’s willing to discuss the terms of NAFTA with Trump.