September 12, 2017 7:15 am

Contract talks at CAMI Ingersoll go down to the wire

Doors and window openings line up on the Trim line, where window regulators, trim panels and window glass is installed at the CAMI Automotive facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2006.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Dave Chidley
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Despite calling them the toughest round of bargaining they’ve experienced, Unifor local 88 officials are hopeful a strike can be averted at CAMI Ingersoll.

Talks between the union and GM Canada have been underway for a month but time is running out to reach a deal before the current contract expires on Sunday.

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The union has said they want higher wages, better benefits and GM’s commitment to invest in the auto assembly plant. Workers at CAMI assemble the Equinox crossover vehicle but earlier this year production of the GMC Terrain was moved to Mexico, resulting in hundreds of layoffs.

READ MORE: CAMI workers in Ingersoll vote in favour of possible strike action

“We are pretty well number one in every metric, not just with GM but all the plants. Toyota’s, Kia’s, Hyundai, we are number one in quality, we are number one in production, we are pretty well number one in every segment,” said Mike Van Boekel, the union local’s chairperson.

The nearly 3,000 workers at CAMI Ingersoll have been working six days a week since 2009 assembling the Equinox.

With the current contract set to expire Sept. 17 at 10:59 p.m., workers voted last month 99.8 per cent in favour of striking if a new deal hasn’t been reached.

The contract talks with CAMI workers come a year after GM Canada wrapped talks with other plants where workers are represented by Unifor. In those talks, workers saw wage increases and a pledge for a new vehicle at their Oshawa assembly plant.

READ MORE: Strike mandate meeting set for CAMI workers in Ingersoll amid contract talks

Van Boekel says he thinks GM is serious about staying in Ingersoll.

“I do think they’re going to stay in the country. Sales in Canada are extremely strong and GM has always said that they want to do business in the countries that they sell vehicles in. Canada is a very good market, Canada is actually the fifth highest selling market by country for GM,” he said.

Talks with GM have coincided with the NAFTA renegotiation between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. Van Boekel says the uncertainty of the talks has had an impact on workers but the main frustration was January’s decision to move production of the Terrain to Mexico.

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