The head of Canada’s striking autoworkers’ union, Unifor, said Thursday morning that General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is ramping Mexican production of the company’s popular Chevy Equinox compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). GM’s CAMI factory in Ingersoll, Ontario, has been the company’s primary assembly plant for the vehicle, one of GM’s best sellers in both the United States and Canada.
About 2,500 Unifor workers went on strike at the GM facility on September 18, seeking higher wages, benefit improvements and an investment in the Ingersoll plant similar to the $421 million investment GM promised to make in three other Canadian plants earlier this year.
A week ago, GM reportedly began trying to ramp production of the Equinox as inventories of the vehicle continued to decline.
Unifor’s national president, Jerry Dias, told the CBC Thursday morning:
This is about autoworkers in Mexico making $2 an hour [and] the movement of good paying middle-class jobs to Mexico. The message is very clear … Nobody’s going to tell GM where to build their vehicles … and frankly they don’t give a damn about Canadian or American jobs. It’s all about profit. It’s all about exploitation.
GM has struggled with inventory problems for months now and has reportedly decided to close its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for the last six weeks of this year, temporarily idling some 1,500 workers. The report also noted that production could be permanently curtailed by 20%, resulting in the permanent loss of around 200 jobs.
The Ingersoll CAMI plant produced more than 132,000 Equinox vehicles in the first eight months of the year, and the two plants in Mexico built just over 40,000 units between April, when production on the model began, and August. At the end of September, GM’s days of supply for the Equinox was a relatively low 41 days. Automakers typically aim at around 60 days of supply.