TORONTO — General Motors has declared "war on Canada" by threatening to move more production of the Equinox sports utility vehicle from Ontario to Mexico, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said Thursday.
Dias said the automaker told his union bluntly on Wednesday that Equinox production in Mexico is being ramped up and production at its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., would wind down if Unifor Local 88 continues its 25-day-old strike.
He said General Motors is taking advantage of the low pay scales for Mexican workers at the expense of higher-paid workers in the United States and Canada, as permitted by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
This is GM saying to us — and saying to Canada — we're going to ramp up production in Mexico and we're going to flood the North American market from cars built in Mexico.
"General Motors did declare war on Canada," Dias said, in a phone interview Thursday from Washington, D.C., where NAFTA trade talks are being held.
"This is GM saying to us — and saying to Canada — we're going to ramp up production in Mexico and we're going to flood the North American market from cars built in Mexico."
General Motors Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Spokesmen for Unifor Local 88 declined to comment.
Dias said Unifor won't back down about the CAMI plant and suggested the union could broaden its efforts to defend Unifor jobs throughout Ontario's auto sector.
'The ugly side of NAFTA'
The CAMI plant is a prime example of a trend that has been happening for years, with GM adding plants in Mexico while closing Canadian and U.S. plants, Dias said.
"This is the ugly side of NAFTA, that people don't want to talk about. Mexican workers are being exploited and, as a result of that, we're losing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in Canada and the United States. It has to stop."
The fiery union leader made his comments as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was beginning an official visit to Mexico as negotiators for the two countries continue NAFTA talks with the United States in Washington.
Earlier this week, Trudeau met with politicians and business leaders in Washington as part of his government's NAFTA negotiation strategy.
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