Unifor workers at a General Motors supplier plant in Windsor, Ontario have vowed to halt production at the facility until the company reverses its decision to close the factory’s doors by mid-2020.
The Windsor plant is operated by Mexican automotive supplier Nemak, which recently signed a contract with GM to produce the aluminum engine blocks and bedplates for the 6.2-liter LT2 V8 and engine blocks for the 3.0-liter LM2 inline-six at the facility.
Nemak had contracted its Windsor plant to build the aluminum blocks, but then in mid-July announced that it would close the plant and move production of the V8 and I6 blocks to a facility in Monterrey, Mexico. The Windsor plant was also going to be the sole provider of the blocks before its closure was announced.
Prior to receiving allocation for the LT2 and LM2 engine blocks, the Nemak-operated plant built 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine blocks that were exported to GM’s Shanghai production plant, where they were installed in Cadillac vehicles for local consumption. Reduced demand in China forced Nemak to phase out the export program with GM’s Chinese subsidiary, which would bring capacity utilization of the Windsor plant “to less than 10% by 2020,” even with LT2 and LM2 allocation.
Unifor had previously expressed its frustration toward Nemak over its decision to close the Windsor plant, with union president Jerry Dias accusing the company of taking “millions in government handouts and posting revenues of over $4 billion world-wide,” before announcing the plant closure. In 2015, the Canadian federal government gave Nemak $3 million CAD to develop “new powertrain lightweighting technologies,” for aluminum engines.
“This is a betrayal of both the workers who generated their profits and the public they siphoned millions from,” Dias added.
Workers at the Windsor plant, represented by Unifor Local 200, vowed to stay off the job and ensure the plant remains closed until the Mexican company reverses its decision to shutter the plant before the end of 2020.
“Nemak is out of business until further notice,” Dias was quoted in saying as he stood outside the Windsor facility this week. “We will be here until we have a solution.”
Nemak released a statement in response, calling the strike illegal and saying it would contact the Ontario provincial government to have the picket removed.
“Nemak is disappointed that Unifor decided to organize an illegal stoppage to our operations, and will pursue an application with the Ontario Labor Relations Board to cease Unifor’s blockade,” the company said.
Source: Unifor/Automotive News Canada