Oct 10 (Reuters) – About 4,300 unionized workers went on strike at three General Motors Co plants in Canada on Tuesday, increasing pressure on the automaker facing a U.S. union strike now in its fourth week.
The workers’ strike came after the Canadian union Unifor He said GM was “stubbornly refusing” to match the contract the labor union reached with Ford Motor Co. (FN), which offered wage increases of up to 25% in Canada.
“The company continues to fall short of our demands for pensions, income support for retired workers, and steps to move temporary workers into permanent, full-time jobs,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said.
The union had set a deadline of midnight Monday to conclude a new deal with General Motors after previous contracts with the three Detroit automakers expired on September 18.
GM said it would continue talks with Unifor. The strike adds to the headache the US automaker is facing as it suffers millions of dollars in losses weekly due to the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike that began on September 15.
GM has lost 34,176 of its production vehicles since the UAW strike began, according to a Deutsche Bank estimate. The automaker said last week that it had 442,586 vehicles in inventory.
The UAW has struck two General Motors assembly plants in the United States and 18 parts distribution centers. General Motors laid off 2,300 American workers due to the effects of the UAW strike.
Unifor said it will go on strike at GM’s Oshawa assembly complex, St. Catharines power plant and Woodstock parts distribution center, but members at CAMI’s assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., will work as they are covered by a separate agreement.
GM is now facing a potential production outage, as workers at the St. Catharines plant manufacture engines for a variety of vehicles, transmissions for the Chevrolet Equinox and Corvette, as well as engine component parts.
At the Oshawa plant, workers build Chevrolet Silverado trucks, one of GM’s most profitable models, while the plant’s stamping operations supply various parts to GM North America. GM did not immediately say Tuesday when it expected disruptions from the Canadian strike to affect U.S. auto production.
Wells Fargo said in a research note that Oshawa was GM’s smallest pickup plant, producing about 2,800 trucks per week, but added that the impact was likely broader in St. Catharines since “the majority of GM’s large SUVs and heavy-duty vehicles are complete the size”. Pickup trucks use V8 engines. Also, about half of standard full-size pickups use V8 engines, so engine options in these vehicles may be limited if the attack continues.
Unifor used a “bargaining mode” approach in its talks, first reaching an agreement with Ford and then expecting GM and Stellantis (STLAM.MI) to match. The UAW, on the other hand, broke away from this approach under its new leadership.
Unifor represents about 18,000 Canadian workers at Stellantis, the parent company of Ford, GM and Chrysler.
Unions are increasingly resorting to strikes in various sectors, from airlines to automakers, supported by a tight labor market and positive public opinion in the United States, despite declining union membership.
(Reporting by Shivansh Tiwari and Jyoti Narayan in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington – Prepared by Mohammed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Jamie Freed, Arun Kuyur and Mark Potter
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