Canada auto talks stalled on product, union says still time for deal

Thu Sep 15, 2016 3:57pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - The main union representing Canada's autoworkers has made no progress in getting a commitment for fresh production from General Motors Co, but the union president said on Thursday there is still time in contract talks to hammer out a deal.

Unifor, which represents more than 20,000 autoworkers, will not extend a strike deadline set for midnight Sept. 19, said National President Jerry Dias, adding that deals can come together quickly when "there's the stomach to do so."

The union's top priority is securing production of new vehicle models in Canada from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor and GM. GM was chosen as the union's strike target for the talks, with its deal setting a pattern for the other manufacturers.

"We still have a fair bit of time," Dias said in an interview. "If we haven't had any discussions yet about product on Monday, then we know that we're in the ditch and we'll be behaving as if we're getting ready to strike. So we're going to need some messaging before that."

Unofficial changes to the federal government's auto funding program, which an industry source told Reuters will offer grants instead of taxable loans, have not yet come up in talks, Dias said.

"We haven't gotten into those types of discussions yet with GM, about product. We raise it every day, but we haven't gotten anywhere," Dias said, adding that he had already met with the company three times today.

"But at some time, we're going to solidify the footprint here in Canada and then there's no question the switch to a grant system is going to help significantly."

GM Canada would not comment on Unifor's view that talks have not progressed on products.   Continued...

Unifor President Jerry Dias speaks during the Unifor convention in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie