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Workers at the Cami auto assembly plant are poised to walk off the job at 11 p.m, the first strike in 25 years.
Mike Van Boekel, chairperson of Unifor Local 88 representing Cami workers, said job security -retaining production of the popular Equinox model at the Ingersoll plant – was the main issue that resulted in a deadlock in negotiations with GM Canada.
Van Boekel said talks have broken off and the two sides are far apart.
“We want a guarantee that the Equinox isn’t leaving and the (GM) will not do it…. We want a guarantee that we are the lead plant.”
The Cami plant recently lost a similar model and 400 jobs when production of the Terrain crossover model was shifted to a plant in Mexico.
About 2,800 members of Unifor Local 88 met Sunday morning at the London Convention Centre for what was originally planned as a ratification vote.
Van Boekel said the turnout for the meeting was “huge” and the mood of Unifor members is defiant.
“Our members are really angry. There will be hundreds of people out there at the plant tonight.”
About three weeks ago the workers voted 99.8 per cent in favour of strike action to back up their bargaining team.
Van Boekel said it is possible the two sides will get back to the bargaining table Sunday but nothing short of a tentative agreement will stop the strike.
“We can’t get a deal done. We are a long way apart. If they don’t want to talk, no extensions at 11 p.m. We are on strike,” said Van Boekel.
Jennifer Wright, a spokesperson for GM Canada, said the company was not commenting on negotiations but the company issued a statement.
“At GM Canada, we are proud of the experience, quality and productivity of our Cami workforce and will work with our union partners toward another innovative and mutually beneficial competitive agreement.”
GM Canada concluded talks with its other Unifor plants in September 2016. Those workers received wage increases, a higher starting wage for new hires and a signing bonus. It also pledged a new vehicle for its Oshawa assembly plant, and made 700 temporary jobs permanent.
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