Toronto, Ontario – Workers at auto plants parts are being pressured to accept drastic wage cuts or face plant closures and work transfers, according to the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW), which said that its members will not tolerate any further downward pressure on parts workers.
“Under the threat of closure or moving work to other plants, employers are coming to our members with outrageous demands and attempting to pit worker against worker,” said CAW president Ken Lewenza, following a weekend meeting of more than 250 CAW elected workplace and local union leaders from the auto parts sector. “We are leaving this conference united in sending a clear message to auto parts companies and auto assemblers that enough is enough.”
Lewenza said that auto workers have delivered top levels of quality and ever-increasing productivity, and have also provided significant and painful cost savings for auto assemblers and parts companies to help ensure the industry’s survival in turbulent years.
“Government rightfully supported domestic automakers crippled by the financial crisis, in recognition of their importance to the broader economy, specifically the half a million jobs in Ontario supported by the industry,” said Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW president. “But governments did not pitch in and we did not renegotiate our collective agreements with the auto companies to give them a mandate to relentlessly drive down conditions for auto parts workers.”
Dias said that some auto parts companies are telling workers that they must accept dramatic cuts to wages in order to secure future work, to as low as $9.00 per hour in one instance, which is below Ontario minimum wage.
The delegates said that they have endorsed the development of a plan which includes such measures as reconfirming a commitment to bargaining principles and rejecting the idea that jobs will be saved by endless cost-cutting; setting in motion a process to strengthen and consolidate bargaining power in the sector; developing common minimum standards for wages and working conditions; and strengthening links between workers to ensure that auto parts work is not moved to non-union and low-wage facilities.