October 12, 2017 / 9:43 PM / 2 years ago

General Motors reaches tentative deal with striking Canada workers

TORONTO (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) said on Friday it reached a tentative labor agreement with striking workers at its CAMI plant in Canada, ending an almost month-old dispute.

A striking member of the auto workers union Unifor walks to a picket line past a trailer covered by with a Canadian flag reading "Canadian Made Matters!", outside the General Motors Company (GM) CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada October 13, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Some 2,500 workers at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, in southern Ontario, walked off the job on Sept. 18 after the U.S. automaker rejected a union call to designate the factory as lead production site for the Chevrolet Equinox model in North America.

“These members have shown incredible courage and strength by standing up for good jobs and a secure future for their families and their community,” Jerry Dias, president of Unifor National, the main union leading the contract talks, said in a statement.

“This strike has shown all of Canada why a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement must address the needs of working people first,” he said.

The agreement is subject to member ratification, and Unifor said details of the deal will not be released until after the vote is held. The ratification vote has not yet been scheduled.

This week, the dispute ratcheted up when GM warned the union that it would start winding down production at the CAMI plant and ramp up output of the popular Equinox SUV at two plants in Mexico unless workers called off their strike.

The union had blamed NAFTA and Mexico’s cheaper labor costs for job losses.

GM moved production of the Terrain SUV to Mexico this year, resulting in about 400 layoffs at CAMI.

Dias said on Thursday that GM had “declared war on Canada,” and called the labor dispute “the poster child of what’s wrong with NAFTA.

The assembly plant strike is Canada’s first since 1996.

Reporting by Susan Taylor and Denny Thomas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler

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