More than 4,000 unionized workers at three General Motors (GM) facilities in Canada initiated a strike at midnight after a deadline to negotiate a new deal ended, piling pressure on the automaker grappling with industrial action in the US.
Canadian labor union Unifor, which represents 4,300 car workers, said early on Tuesday it would go on strike after it failed to reach a deal that matched the contract the union struck last month with Ford Motor of Canada to improve wages and pensions.
“The company continues to fall short on our pension demands, income supports for retired workers, and meaningful steps to transition temporary workers into permanent, full-time jobs,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a statement.
Unifor recently approved a new three-year agreement with Ford, granting wage increments of up to 25% to over 5,600 employees across its Canadian establishments.
The union selected GM as its second bargaining target among the Detroit Three automakers, however, according to Unifor GM was “resisting” several crucial aspects of its agreement with Ford.
“Everything our members do, from the trucks we assemble, the stamping plant we run, the engines and transmissions we build, and the parts we deliver, are all critical to GM’s bottom line,” Unifor GM Master Bargaining Chair Jason Gale said.
“This dispute can only end one way: with GM agreeing to the same terms in our pattern agreement with Ford.”
The union had set a deadline of Monday midnight for a new deal with GM after the previous collective agreements with the Detroit Three automakers expired on September 18.
The walkout adds to the headache faced by the automaker in the US where it was racking up millions of dollars in losses per week due to the UAW strike.
Analysts have noted the strike comes as the auto industry embarks on the electric vehicle revolution as the companies are in the middle of huge investments.
Last month Pilots of Canada’s biggest airliner staged a protest in the city of Toronto to demand better pay and benefits as talks over a new contract continue.
In April, More than 155,000 federal public servants went on strike across Canada over low wages after failing to reach an agreement on a pay hike.
Canada last witnessed such massive labor strikes back in 1991.
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