Company negotiators on Wednesday told the union representing about 2,500 workers at GM's CAMI factory in Ingersoll, Ontario, that it will boost production of the Chevrolet Equinox SUV at two GM plants in Mexico to offset the almost monthlong strike, said Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, which represents Canadian auto workers.
The issue, escalating just as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses the North American Free Trade Agreement with USA and Mexican leaders, also coincides with GM's plan to scale back production and jobs at a Detroit assembly plant later this month.
The Canadian union leading a month-long strike at a General Motors Co plant in Ontario is refusing to make concessions to settle the matter, even after the USA automaker threatened to move all production to Mexico.
The biggest USA automaker separately said on Thursday that it planned to scale back production and jobs at a Detroit assembly plant producing four poorly selling sedan models, starting October 20, eliminating about 200 jobs.
Unifor leader, Jerry Dias said on Wednesday that GM officials said they would ramp up production of the vehicle at two plants in Mexico that build the Equinox and a similar model, the GMC Terrain if the walkout is not called off.
General Motors Canada says it wants to reach an agreement with 2,800 of its striking workers in Ontario - but the automaker giant says global and domestic trade talks keep getting in the way.
Union leaders are anxious about job security amid the threat that more work could be taken from the plant, which is among GM's busiest in North America. "They have declared war on Canada".
GM Canada was not available for comment.
The talks have been shrouded in controversy due to US President Donald Trump's desire to keep jobs in the United States, and to ensure that all trade deals are fair for the three member countries.
Unifor is pushing for a commitment from GM that the Ontario plant will be the main producer of the hot-selling Equinox SUV.
Canada must discuss the issue with the United States and develop a strategy to stem the "influx" of vehicles from Mexico, Dias told reporters in Washington.
The strike is also badly hurting the CAMI plant's supply chain.
The workforce at GM's San Luis Potosi plant in Mexico grew to 5,000 from 4,000 workers this year, as the automaker invested in production of its Trax line of SUVs, said federal labor delegate Edgar Duron. The company now has two plants in Mexico that build the Equinox. The company would not speculate on any impact from a production shift to Mexico.
GM has plants in the United States that are under-utilised, but retooling them to build the Equinox would be expensive. "GM is turning its back on the entire community". "But is there a long-term threat?" With a shrinking 41-day supply of rolling stock at the end of last month, the facilities located south of the border can't produce an equivalent volume to the Canadian worksite.