The union representing General Motors workers in Oshawa, Ont., is urging Canadians to boycott purchasing vehicles made in Mexico.
“It is an announcement that we have done everything possible to avoid making,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said during a news conference in Toronto Friday morning.
“We are announcing we are launching a major campaign urging Canadians and American consumers not to buy GM vehicles that are shipping from Mexico. This is over 600,000 vehicles a year that are shipping from Mexico to Canada and the United States.”
The call for a boycott comes after GM announced in late November that it would wind down its Oshawa operations by the end of 2019 at a loss of about 2,600 unionized workers and 340 other staff.
WATCH: Unifor urges boycott of Mexican-built GM vehicles. Shallima Maharaj reports.
Earlier this week, the union had ruled out a potential boycott of GM, pointing to the work done by Unifor workers in Ingersol and St. Catharines, Ont.
“General Motors is arrogant to the point they think that they can close our assembly plant in Oshawa and close four plants in the United States while ramping up production in Mexico,” Dias said.
“We’re asking Canadians to stand up to corporate greed. We’re asking you to stand up to greedy motors. We want you to buy only GM vehicles made in Canada and the United States.”
The union also released an Ekos Research poll last week noting that 45 per cent of Canadians support an outright boycott of GM.
Dias says he supports the products union members make at GM in Canada, but objects to the company’s shifting of production to Mexico.
GM Canada issued a statement Friday saying the boycott could create “collateral damage” for workers across the province.
“The threat of collateral damage for Ontario based auto suppliers, auto dealers and workers is concerning, especially for an Ontario economy that is now open for business, with every opportunity to now benefit from increased trade with Mexico,” GM Canada vice president David Paterson said in a media release.
Following a meeting earlier this month between the union and GM executives, the automaker rejected proposals to keep the Oshawa assembly plant open past 2019.
Unifor has been running ads critical of the company’s decision and highlighting that it accepted $11 billion in bailout funds from Canadian governments in the financial downturn. The union has also emphasized the many spin-off jobs that depend on the Oshawa plant and the wider impacts of its closure on the economy.
VIDEO: Whitby auto workers walk off the job, protest Oshawa GM plant closure
–With files from The Canadian Press