Ont GM Ingersoll 20061221

Workers at the CAMI automotive facility in Ingersoll, Ont., voted 90 per cent in favour of a contractwith General Motors. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

General Motors has reached a four-year agreement with workers at its CAMI Automotive Plant in Ingersoll, Ont.

The 2,700 workers,members of Unifor, the new union created by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, voted 90 per cent in favour of the agreement on Sunday.

Unifor says the agreement includes a $3,000 signing bonus and annual lump sum payments of $2,000 in each of 2014, 2015 and 2016. It also provides full-time jobs to about 300 temporary workers.

The union agreed to a company demand that new employees enter into a defined contribution pension plan.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias called the new agreement a beachhead in the union's campaign to win good, permanent jobs in Canada's increasingly precarious jobs market.

"This was not an easy round of negotiations, but the committee managed to carve out some important victories, including breaking the company's reliance on temporary work," Dias said.

Adds apprenticeship positions

Unifor plant chairman Mike Van Boekel said the contract makes important inroads in workplace health and safety, job security and skilled trades, including the creation of eight new apprenticeship opportunities at the plant.

The CAMI workers manufacture the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain vehicles.

In March, GM announced it was investing $250 million in new equipment at the plant so it could build a wider variety of vehicles at a lower cost.

North American automakers have been gaining momentum recently as the industry recovers from the severe downturn that started in late 2008.

Automakers posted their best sales in a decade last year, up almost six per cent, and the CAMI plant's two vehicles were strong sellers in GM's lineup.

Industry observers have predicted 2013 North American sales will surpass last year's as the U.S. economy revives from the recession.