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CAW strikes at Wescast and Lear over job security and concessions

Union accuses parts makers of lack of commitment; and trying to force concessions .


October 29, 2012
by PLANT STAFF

BRANTFORD, Ont. — The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union may have settled contracts with the Detroit 3 OEMs but relations at two Ontario parts plants are under pressure.

Wescast Industries Inc., a manufacturer of exhaust system components based in Brantford, Ont., confirmed union members at its machining plant in Strathroy began a legal strike Oct. 27.

On Oct. 28, the union announced strike action at Lear Whitby, a manufacturer of seats for vehicles made by General Motors in Oshawa.

The union, which represents 75 workers at the Wescast plant, has accused the company of trying to force a contract offer that failed to secure work or jobs. It said in the last round of negotiations, Wescast ordered a final offer vote, demonstrating “a serious lack of commitment to labour relations.”

The final offer was rejected by 60% of the membership.

“The contract offer from Wescast seriously compromised our members’ job security,” said CAW national representative Jim Woods. “In the last few days, we’ve learned that General Motors intends to move the current work performed at Wescast to a facility in China. There is absolutely no reason that our members should agree to a new contract that undercuts their own jobs.”

Wescast said in a brief statement it has put plans in place to ensure continued supply of parts to customers.

The People’s Republic of China approved the acquisition of Wescast by Sichuan Bohong Industry Co. Ltd. of China in September.

In Whitby, the CAW accused Lear of demanding deep concessions that would impact 400 workers as well as retirees at a time when the company is making significant profits.

Workers had voted 97% in favour of striking if necessary last week.

Lear, based in Southfield, Mich., has 207 locations in 35 countries and has approximately 100,000 employees.

Wescast, which employs 2,100 people, supplies OEMs and Tier 1 customers in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia.

Files from Canadian Press