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Fiat Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ont., cutting 1,500 positions

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WINDSOR, Ont. — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says it plans to cut the third shift at its Windsor, Ont., assembly plant later this year at a cost of about 1,500 jobs.

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The move to end the shift starting Sept. 30 is to “better align production with global demand,” said company spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin.

She said retirement packages will be offered to eligible employees and would work to find positions for others.

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Whitby auto workers walk off the job, protest Oshawa GM plant closure

“The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority,” she wrote in an email.

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Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy said in a statement that the decision was unexpected.

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“I was shocked and disappointed that FCA has announced today the elimination of the third shift,” he wrote.

“We will continue to meet with the company on alternatives of new products. We will need the support of all levels of government as we move forward.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his government will “fight tooth and nail” to protect the jobs in Windsor.

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“In the face of this extremely disappointing announcement from Fiat Chrysler, our government will not waver in our support for the thousands of men and women that go to work in Ontario’s auto sector every day,” Ford said in a news release.

Ford said Fiat Chrysler shouldn’t make its decision based on what he called the anti-business policies of the former Liberal government.

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“Our government is lowering taxes, lowering electricity rates, and slashing red tape. There has never been a better time for auto-manufacturers to invest in the province of Ontario.”

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The plant, which produces the Chrysler Pacifica and its hybrid version, as well as the Dodge Grand Caravan, has about 6,100 employees.

FCA announced in late February that it would invest US$4.5 billion in Michigan to build a new assembly plant and upgrade other operations and create 6,500 jobs in the process.

The planned cut in Windsor comes as Ontario’s auto sector is already reeling from General Motors’ plans to end production at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., by the end of the year at a loss of about 2,600 unionized workers.