Windsor

Boycotting GM Mexican vehicles brings 'collateral damage,' says automaker

Unifor's latest tactic in its campaign to get General Motors to reverse its decision in Oshawa is to ask Canadians to boycott all GM vehicles made in Mexico.

David Paterson asks Unifor national president to leave his soapbox

Workers have placed signs in snowbanks as part of the protest at GM headquarters in Oshawa. (Camille Feireisen)

Unifor is asking Canadians to stop buying General Motors vehicles made in Mexico, but the company says that will only hurt workers in Canada.

David Paterson, vice president of corporate and environmental affairs, said workers in St. Catharines and Ingersoll make transmissions and stamps for vehicles that are produced in Mexico.

"This is really collateral damage being spread across the economy," he said.

The proposed boycott is the union's latest tactic in its campaign to get GM to reverse its decision to close the assembly plant in Oshawa this year.

David Paterson says workers in Ontario create parts that go into GM vehicles produced in Mexico. (CBC News)

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said the company is "arrogant" to think it can close the Oshawa plant "while ramping up production in Mexico."

He said there are more than 600,000 vehicles shipped from Mexico to the United States each year, a number Paterson said is "dead wrong."

The company says only 37,000 are imported into Canada each year from Mexico, comprised of three models out of the 47 total it sells in the Canada.

"It's really hard to respond when the numbers are, frankly, lies," said Paterson.

According to Dias, the boycott is a way to "stand up to corporate greed," but Paterson reiterated that GM is not going to turn back on its word.

He called for Dias to "come down from the soapbox" to work with GM to help workers transition into their next jobs.

Paterson emphasized the company is offering retraining for workers who need it in order to find new work.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias called on Canadians to boycott all GM vehicles made in Mexico. (CBC)

He also said GM is continuing to expand in Canada, just in different ways. One of them is the research centre in Markham, Ont., where they're continuing to hire new engineers.

He also pointed to a new centre opening next year in Toronto, Ont. where the focus will be urban mobility engineering.

"We've said this about 100 times in the last two months. We've made a decision and announced it in November, that's not going to change," said Paterson.

"We want to treat our people well, but we can't stop the types of technology changes and transformation that all industries are going through."

With files from Afternoon Drive and the Canadian Press

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