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Sep 16, 2019

GM strike in U.S. could threaten hundreds of Canadian jobs: Unifor’s Dias

GM Canada jobs impact may come within days amid U.S. strike: Unifor's Jerry Dias

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The General Motors Co. strike in the United States could impact hundreds of jobs in Canada, according to the head of the union representing the country’s auto workers.

Unifor president Jerry Dias told BNN Bloomberg Monday the strike, which saw nearly 50,000 U.S. workers walk off the job Sunday, will also likely impact GM operations in both Canada and Mexico.

“Clearly, it’s going to have an impact of several hundred jobs in Oshawa, as well as probably a couple of hundred in St. Catharines,” Dias told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview.

Operations between the GM plants are somewhat integrated as the plant in St. Catharines, Ont. produces engines that are shipped to 11 different GM assembly facilities worldwide. Meanwhile, GM’s Oshawa assembly plant, which is set to close at the end of this year, relies on products from the U.S.

GM Canada told Bloomberg News the strike isn’t having an impact on Canadian plants yet, though it is “monitoring the situation closely.” Dias said Canadian plants could see job losses within days.

The United Auto Workers union said the fight for fair wages and job security are among the issues behind the strike – its first one against GM in 12 years – which could cost GM about US$50 million per day.

“It really is about the elephant in the room, which is GM’s continued support of their Mexican operations at the chagrin of the Canadian and U.S. operations,” Dias said, adding it’s “too tough to tell” when the strike will end.

“GM is going to have to make some firm commitments. I’d expect that the workers in the United States aren’t going to accept the fact that there’s a continued migration of their jobs to Mexico – that’s the elephant in the room,” Dias said.

“And it has to be settled, so it could go on for a while.”