Local businesses, including a local grocery store and Tim Horton’s, have been calling Unifor Local 88 in Ingersoll, Ontario wondering when looming layoffs at GM CAMI will begin.
“Employers want to know when they need to start cutting their own staff,” said Local 88 members Collen Wake told a town hall on trade at the local’s offices in Ingersoll.
“Local businesses rely on the people working at CAMI.”
Unifor Local 88 President Dan Borthwick said Canada needs a new approach to trade that puts the needs of workers and communities first if we are to avoid seeing more jobs lost, such as 475 this month at his plant as production of the Terrain moves to Mexico.
“Ingersoll has the capacity to continue building the Terrain,” Borthwick said. “the course of trade in Canada needs to change. Corporate power and investor privilege must be put in check.”
NDP Essex MP and former Unifor Local 200 member Tracey Ramsey said only the wealthy and corporations have benefitted from NAFTA and other trade deals.
More than 75 people attended the town hall, including Unifor members, Ingersoll area residents, local and federal politicians and trade activists from across Canada.
“Working people are an afterthought in trade negotiations, and that has to change,” she told the town hall.
Kelly Gilson of the United Way underlined the importance of good auto jobs in the community, saying 40 per cent of her agency’s donations come from local auto workers.
Sujata Dey, trade campaigner for the Council of Canadians, said the progressive groups have warned for years about the dangers of modern trade deals, but were dismissed. Now the projections have come true, she said.
Unifor researcher Angelo DiCaro said Canada has actually seen stronger trade growth with countries that we have no trade deal with, than with those with which we do have a deal.
The town hall was the first of what is hoped to be several across Canada in the coming year to gather grassroots input on establishing a people’s agenda for trade in Canada. For more information, go to unifor.org/peoplestrade.