General Motors workers on strike over jobs- NAFTA blamed

General Motors Ontario assembly plant builds one of GM's most popular cars the Chevrolet Equinox utility vehicle

Union workers at Ingersoll's GM auto plant are now on strike as a tentative agreement has yet to be agreed upon.

Workers at GM's factory in Ingersoll, Ontario-the main source of the Equinox-went on strike when their contract expired Sunday at 10:59 p.m. ET.

Local 88 members at CAMI voted 99.8% on August 27 to give their bargaining committee a strike mandate, according to Unifor.

The almost 3,000 workers at CAMI assemble the Equinox crossover vehicle. Known as world best in production, GM nevertheless moved the Terrain production to Mexico this year, resulting in over 600 job layoffs in Canada.

"While General Motors of Canada and our Unifor partners have made very positive progress on several issues over the past weeks, the Company is disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement".

Gerry Dias Unifor national president said about Unifor's negotiations with GM, "When you have a plant in Mexico that pays their workers $2 an hour and they can't even afford to buy the cars that they build, then you've got a real problem".

- A key issue is job security - stoked by GM Canada's decision to this summer move production of one vehicle, the Terrain crossover SUV, to Mexico.

"This is one of GM's most profitable plants", Dias said.

Dias has emerged as the face for labor during renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, pushing for higher working standards in both the USA and Mexico. He said GM, like other automakers, is exploiting cheaper labor in Mexico at the expense of Canadian and American workers.

"They took it down to Mexico strictly because the Mexican workers are making $3 an hour U.S. We can't compete with that".

The company spent 800 million Canadian dollars (about $660 million) on new facilities and tooling at Ingersoll for the current version of the Equinox.

The union is 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. The redesigned 2018 Equinox hit dealers in the spring, and sales through August for the nameplate - which include both the new and old generations - are up 16.9 percent amid consumer fervor for all things SUV.

As of Sept 1, GM only had enough inventory of the Equinox model to last 53 days, a rather tight level of supply for the automaker.

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