September 17, 2017 1:10 pm

Workers ready for strike in CAMI Ingersoll labour dispute

Production at the General Motors' CAMI Automotive facility in Ingersoll, Ont., is shown in this Dec. 21, 2006 file photo.

Dave Chidley/Canadian Press

Ingersoll factory workers at CAMI Automotive are readying their picket signs as the bargaining deadline looms.

A panel was held at the London Convention Centre on Sunday, where Unifor Local 88 officials explained the current situation to CAMI employees.

Unifor Local 88 and General Motors were hopeful a tentative agreement could be reached, but neither side was able to come to an agreement.

READ MORE: Contract talks at CAMI Ingersoll go down to the wire

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“We built the Terrain and the Equinox, and they moved the Terrain to Mexico despite being number one in quality and having massive sales, so part of our demands are to [ensure] the Equinox stays in Ingersoll, but General Motors is not interested in that whatsoever,” says Unifor Local 88 chair Mike Van Boekel.

“We’ve gone back and forth on a few different proposals over the course of these few weeks, but quite honestly, we are light years apart from each other in terms of reaching an agreement.”

While an agreement has not yet been made, there is still time to reach one before the deadline. Van Boekel says that the current situation isn’t completely hopeless.

“I believe that talks can change very quickly — however, it’s getting close to noon on Sunday and if an agreement is not reached by 11 p.m. tonight, we do not work past the extension and will be picketing starting tonight,” he said.

Van Boekel adds that due to the high quality of production and strong numbers at the CAMI Ingersoll plant, General Motors will likely want to reach an agreement instead of moving the plant out of Canada.

Workers voted last month 99.8 per cent in favour of striking if a new deal wasn’t reached.

WATCH: Cami Ingersoll is a perfect example of what’s wrong with NAFTA: Unions

While workers’ spirits were down due to the uncertainty of their current situation, the 2,500 workers who filled the convention centre on Sunday stood in solidarity with their local’s bargaining team.

“To get a standing ovation before the meeting starts, it is absolutely fantastic,” said Van Boekel.

“It sends chills down your back knowing that these workers appreciate the hard work we have done and have faith in us to get what’s best for them.”

Unifor Local 88 officials returned to talks with GM after the meeting was adjourned.

Officials say it’s not certain a strike will indeed happen, but given the 10:59 deadline, workers have begun signing up for picketing shifts, which are due to begin at the CAMI plant tonight after 11 p.m.

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