General Motors reaches tentative agreement at its Ontario CAMI plant


TORONTO — General Motors reached a tentative deal with the striking workers at its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., on Friday.

Few details of the pact were provided by the company or Unifor, the union whose membership will later hold a vote on ratifying the agreement.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne issued a statement welcoming the tentative deal and expressing hope it would result in an end to the four-week-old strike.

“The impact of this job action was being felt throughout Ontario’s auto supply chain and we know that a possible end to this work stoppage will be greeted with appreciation and relief by everyone involved,” said the joint statement from Wynne and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid.

The deal came after GM told Unifor that it might shift more production to Mexico if the strike didn’t end soon.

Unifor President Jerry Dias accused the company on Thursday of declaring war on its Ingersoll workers, but the company said it had little choice but to look at alternatives to the strikebound Ontario plant, which assembles GM’s Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle.

Mike Van Boekel, an official with Unifor Local 88 representing the workers, said there was no question that the GM threat to increase production to Mexico hung over the talks.

“It did play a role for sure,” said Van Boekel in an interview Friday night.

Job security was a major issue in the talks, as Unifor wanted assurances the Ingersoll plant would be the lead plant for the hot-selling Equinox.

But the union’s concerns about job security were addressed in the tentative agreement and the union is recommending that its 2,800 members at the plant accept the deal, Van Boekel said.

“From the way our talks went, I believe our Equinox will be the lead plant and will remain the lead plant for many years to come,” he said.

Dias complained Thursday about GM adding plants in Mexico while closing facilities in Canada and the U.S. He accused the automaker of exploiting lower paid Mexican workers.

He raised the spectre of NAFTA in a statement Friday night about the tentative deal.

“This strike has shown all of Canada why a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement must address the needs of working people first,”  Dias said in the statement posted on the union’s website.

The workers were to vote on Monday whether to accept the agreement.


The Canadian Press