Industry leaders are keeping a close eye on the automotive labour disputes happening in Canada and the U.S.

 Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, which represents Canadian producers of automotive parts, equipment and supplies, said a major dispute in the U.S. would quickly impact the parts industry in Canada as 48 per cent of the parts made locally are exported to the country.

“Any shutdown in operations, you’re a day or two away from idling capacity,” he told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview Friday.

On Friday, the U.S. United Auto Workers began a strike against three legacy automakers -- Ford, General Motors and Stallantis – after failing to reach a deal by the midnight deadline. The strike revolves around one plant at each of the three manufacturers designed to impact the most profitable vehicles without overly denting the union’s strike fund.

The sides remain far apart in negotiations and the strike could expand to other plants if things do not progress.

Volpe is hoping the weekend gives the union and automakers some time to figure things out and hopes they will rotate the strike action.

“If they rotate, it mitigates the impact on Canadian suppliers,” he said. “If they expand and prolong in any specific plant, you might see a company who’s providing seats to the Jeep production in Ohio say: ‘We’ve got to shut that line down.’”

Meanwhile, strike action could come as soon as Tuesday next week for Ford workers in Canada if Unifor and the company fail to reach a deal. 

“We’re not concerned, obviously we don’t discount that it might be something that union might want to do or there’s an impasse between the two companies but we have a long history here of hard negotiations where people where people stay at the table, and the leadership at Ford and the leadership at Unifor know each other very well,” Volpe said.

With files from BNN Bloomberg’s Iva Poshnjari and Bloomberg News