General Motors is shifting 625 jobs from a plant in Canada that makes popular crossover utility vehicles to Mexico, the Canadian auto workers union said Friday.
The cuts represent one-fifth of the facility’s workforce and comes less than a year after GM expanded the Canadian plant, with part of a Can$560 million (US$426 million) investment in its overall Canadian operations.
The layoffs at the plant in Ingersoll, Ontario — which produces the Equinox and Terrain models — are a “betrayal” that show “why NAFTA is a terrible deal for Canadian jobs,” Unifor said in a statement on the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“It is another example of how good jobs are being shifted out of Canada for cheaper labor in Mexico,” Unifor president Jerry Dias said.
The announcement is “a shining example of everything wrong with NAFTA, it must be renegotiated,” he added. “It is imperative that we have trade rules that help ensure good jobs in Canada.”
GM spokesman Mathew Palmer told AFP in an email the cuts “are strictly related to the end of the older generation Equinox production” at the Ingersoll plant, and have nothing to do with moving Terrain production to Mexico, which had already been announced.
The new Equinox model is to start production at the Ingersoll plant in July.
NAFTA has linked Canada, the United States and Mexico since 1994.
US President Donald Trump has vowed to renegotiate the trade pact, threatening to impose stiff import duties on foreign-made cars sold in the United States.
Auto makers responded with goodwill overtures, playing up their efforts to create jobs and invest in the United States.
Asked for a comment, Canadian Economic Development Minister Havdeep Bains said through a spokesman that the government “is concerned about the impact of job losses on workers and their families and our thoughts go out to those affected.”
But, he added, “We remain optimistic about the strength and future of Canada’s automotive industry.”