GM Ontario plant workers strike as talks with union fail

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[September 18, 2017]  (Reuters) - Canada's Unifor union said its members at General Motors Co's CAMI auto assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario are on a strike from 1059 pm local time Sept. 17 as it failed to reach a tentative agreement with the automaker.

Jerry Dias, president of Canada's Unifor Union talks to the media during the second round of NAFTA talks involving the United States, Mexico and Canada in Mexico City, Mexico September 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The union was in talks with GM about the company's decision to cut jobs and shift some production work to Mexico.

In July, GM stopped production of its Terrain sport utility vehicle model in Ingersoll, and 100 percent of the volume was moved to Mexico, resulting in 600 layoffs.

A central priority for the union is a commitment from the company to designating the CAMI plant as the lead producer of the Chevrolet Equinox, Unifor said in a statement.

The plant now only produces the Equinox, which is also manufactured in Mexico.

The union had blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement and Mexico's cheaper labor costs for the job losses, which it called unjustified given strong sales of the Equinox crossover and Terrain assembled at the southern Ontario plant.

"Every member understands the importance of reaching a deal that secures production, and what that means to our families and the community," said Mike Van Boekel, Local 88 Chair at the CAMI plant.

Securing jobs was the key to a collective agreement to replace the one expiring in September between GM and its 2,800 CAMI workers, said Unifor president Jerry Dias in February.

General Motors said it was disappointed that it was not able to complete a new agreement.

"We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement," GM Canada said in a statement.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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