Mike Van Boekel, chair of the Unifor Local 88 brand that represents workers there, confirmed to Automotive News this week that an undisclosed number of hourly employees had been placed on unpaid leaves of absence as a result of their unvaccinated status.
GM Canada implemented a policy in October requiring any personnel entering its Canadian facilities to be fully vaccinated by December 12th. Unifor managed to secure exemptions for vaccinated workers who had received only one dose, Van Boekel told Automotive News, but those who are still unvaccinated have been placed on leave.
The automaker will begin enforcing the vaccine policy with random spot checks on workers at its plants in January. Workers who falsify their vaccination proof will be terminated, Unifor has advised employees.
Workers who are on unpaid leave are expected to be terminated by GM Canada early next year if they do not comply with the vaccination requirement or secure exempt status, Van Boekel also said. While he said Unifor plans to file grievances over the terminations, he told Automotive News that they have “a very weak case,” to have the decision overturned.
GM Canada’s vaccine mandate has caused controversy within the union, with many workers expressing frustration that GM does not have the same rules in place for its U.S. facilities. Unifor members have also staged protests against the mandate, which called for the union to push back against the clampdown.
Stellantis plans to implement a vaccine mandate at its Canadian facilities by the New Year, while Ford’s will take hold on January 3rd.