Wescast Industries, a Tier 1 automotive supplier of exhaust manifolds, has informed Unifor of its intention to close its foundry in Wingham, Ont., where it has operated for more than 120 years, the union said May 29.
Unifor said the closure will devastate workers, families and the community of Wingham, about 190 kilometres northwest of Toronto. About 250 members of Unifor Local 4207 work at the facility.
“Wescast and its overseas owners are turning their backs on the foundry’s dedicated workforce and the community that has supported them for generations,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said. “The Wingham foundry closure announcement must serve as a wake-up call to every level of government that Wingham auto parts workers urgently need support.”
The Wescast Industries foundry in Wingham has been operating since 1902 and primarily manufactures exhaust manifolds for automakers such as Ford, General Motors, and Volvo. Wescast was acquired by China’s Sichuan Bohong Co. Ltd. in 2013.
The company has not provided the union with a timeline for the planned closure. But Unifor maintains that overseas sourcing of the castings violates program commitment guarantees in the collective agreement and is the subject of a prior grievance filed by the union earlier this year.
Since Wescast was acquired by Bohong, the union said it has repeatedly expressed concerns to management regarding “the company’s lack of investment in basic maintenance of the historic facility.”
The collective agreement between Unifor Local 4207 and Wescast is set to expire this year and the parties are in the process of entering negotiations. Unifor said there currently is no change to the timeline for bargaining.
“Wingham can’t afford to lose hundreds of good jobs and neither can the industry,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario regional director. “Maintaining these jobs and the footprint of our auto parts supply chain is crucial to maintaining the skilled workforce and industrial capacity needed for the transition to electric vehicle manufacturing.”
Automotive News Canada has reached out to the company for comment.
Unifor has been pressing the federal and provincial governments to adopt a strategy designed to preserve auto parts jobs as the industry shifts toward electric vehicles.
The union has said that thousands of jobs are at risk as components such as exhaust systems and fuel tanks aren’t required in EVs.