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Unifor: GM threat to ramp up Mexican production is 'slap in the face' for Canada

Last Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 9:04 am EDT

Employees of the GM CAMI assembly factory stand on the picket line in Ingersoll, Ont., on Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. The 2,500 members of Unifor local 88 walked out Sunday at 10:59 p.m. when negotiators for the union and the automaker failed to come to terms on a new contract agreement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

TORONTO – The head of Unifor says General Motors has declared “war on Canada” by ramping up production of its Equinox SUV in Mexico to do more work currently done in Ontario.

Unifor’s national president Jerry Dias says from Washington, D.C., that the Detroit-based automaker’s threat during labour negotiations on Wednesday is to a “slap in the face” to Canada and the United States.

The union leader’s comments come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins an official visit to Mexico and NAFTA trade negotiations continue in Washington, D.C.

Unifor Local 88 is in its fourth week of a strike at the GM’s assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., one of three factories that make the Equinox sports utility vehicle.

The Equinox has been the CAMI assembly plant’s only vehicle since General Motors moved production of the Terrain SUV to Mexico earlier this year.

Dias says GM’s movement of work from the CAMI plant to Mexico is an example of what’s wrong with the North American Free Trade Agreement, currently being renegotiated.

“This is an absolute slap in the face to Canada. It’s also a slap in the face to the United States,” Dias said in a phone interview Thursday from Washington.

He said General Motors is being arrogant by saying “this is how we’re going to do it” and warned Unifor won’t back down and could expand its fight beyond CAMI.

“This is the poster child for what’s wrong with NAFTA,” Dias said. “This is exactly what’s been unfolding for years and years and years.”