GM and Canada union far apart on product as strike looms

Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:37pm EDT
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's autoworkers' union Unifor and General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) made little progress resolving the key issue of new investment in contract talks late on Sunday, the union's president said, just over 24 hours ahead of a strike deadline.

The automaker and the union representing its Canadian manufacturing workers have been divided over union demands that GM commit to building new vehicle models at its Oshawa, Ontario, plant.

"There's a hell of a lot of work to do and not a lot of time with which to do it," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in an interview.

Asked whether the two sides were discussing a new product for GM's Oshawa assembly, Dias said: "They understand that they have to do something, but we're not really talking about anything specific, which is problematic."

Dias said the union has not yet received a contract proposal from GM, but he remains confident the automaker will eventually offer a product. He said the union will not extend its strike deadline.

GM declined to comment.

A four-year contract covering the workers of GM, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI: Quote) (FCAU.N: Quote) and Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) in the province of Ontario expires on Monday. The union chose GM as its strike target for contract talks, with GM's deal setting the pattern for the other manufacturers.

Contract talks could save 2,500 jobs at GM's Oshawa car assembly, or take the plant one step closer to closure. The automaker was already on the verge of shutting one of two assembly lines at its Oshawa plant, with several vehicles either produced in another country or expected to move in 2017.   Continued...

Cars pass under an overpass at the General Motors Car assembly plant in Oshawa, June 1, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo