Windsor judge orders Nemak employees to cease 'unlawful strike'

Unifor national president Jerry Dias previously said that Nemak employees wouldn't return to work until a settlement has been reached.

The Ontario Labour Relations board ordered employees to cease their pickets outside Nemak's west Windsor plant

Nemak says the decision to close its Windsor plant has to do with the phase out of an export program with a Chinese customer. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

A Windsor judge has ordered all striking employees to cease their actions, after hearing an injunction application submitted by Nemak lawyers Thursday.

Judge Terrence L. J. Patterson's order found Unifor national president Jerry Dias, Unifor Local 200 president John D'Agnolo, plant chair Mike Jobin and vice president Tim Little in contempt for failing to comply with an Ontario Labour Relations Board decision ordering workers to cease picketing.

D'Agnolo said he hasn't received a copy of Patterson's order yet. 

"This is something that's near and dear to Unifor's heart," he said. "When you break a contract like this and you're going to destroy families, we're going to try and support them to the best of our ability and I think we'll continue to protest."

Unifor issued a statement Thursday evening saying that the union is "aware that the court issued an order."

"We are reviewing the decision which was issued after a hearing that occurred without the normal notice, and without the union's participation," the union said. "We look forward to having an opportunity to speak about the Nemak issues when the hearing continues next week."

In a separate statement Thursday, Nemak said it will take "all the necessary legal steps to re-start production and maintains its call to employees for constructive, beneficial dialogue to jointly reach the most favourable transition plan for employees."

Windsor police has received Patterson's court order, according to Staff Sgt. Karel DeGraaf.

"We're hopeful the company and union will work things out," said DeGraaf. 

Representatives from Nemak and Unifor appeared before the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) on Wednesday, culminating in a decision by the province ordering employees to stop engaging in what the Board called an "unlawful strike." 

In response to the OLRB's order, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said Wednesday that Nemak employees wouldn't return to work until a settlement has been reached.

"In order to move our jobs to Mexico, [Nemak is] either going to sue us or they're going to throw me in jail," Dias said Wednesday. 

Nemak employees had agreed to a three-year wage freeze to extend work at the plant to 2023. In July, Nemak announced the plant would close sometime next year, moving operations to their plants in Mexico. 

Employees part of Unifor set up a blockade at the auto parts plant on Labour Day, as a form of protest against the company's plans to close the plant.

Protestors argued that Nemak reneged on a previously made promise to keep the plan open until 2022.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Nemak said it plans on resuming production at its west Windsor plant at 11 p.m. this evening. 

However, workers held fast, remaining by a makeshift barricade throughout Wedneday evening. 


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