September 19, 2016 / 2:07 PM / 2 years ago

GM, Canada union resume talks as midnight strike deadline looms

TORONTO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Unifor, Canada’s autoworkers union, and General Motors Co resumed talks early on Monday ahead of a midnight strike deadline, having made little progress over the weekend to resolve the key issue of new investment, according to the union.

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.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias said late Sunday the union has not yet received a contract proposal from GM, but he remains confident the automaker will eventually offer a new product for the plant. He said the union will not extend its strike deadline.

Union officials had no additional comment early Monday.

GM Canada is focused on working with Unifor to reach a “mutually beneficial and competitive new agreement,” spokeswoman Jennifer Wright said in an email.

A four-year contract covering the workers of GM, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co 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 that are expected to sign similar deals.

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.

There are no obvious products that would go into the Oshawa plant, and the automaker has said it would only make future product decisions after a labor deal.

Canada has been struggling to get new investments from automakers in its once-thriving vehicle assembly industry, losing out to the southern United States and lower-cost Mexico.

Between 2001 and 2013, some 14,300 jobs were lost in vehicle manufacturing in Canada, according to the Automotive Policy Research Center in Hamilton, Ontario.

Still, the union has said it will not sign without a vehicle commitment, calling it pivotal for the future of Canada’s auto industry. Pensions and wages are also on the table.

Without a deal, the union’s 3,900 GM members would have a legal right to strike at midnight (0400 GMT) on Tuesday.

Reporting by Susan Taylor and Ethan Lou; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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