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Unifor calls on government to make Stellantis deal happen

Unifor is calling on the federal government and Stellantis to deliver on commitments of a new Windsor electric vehicle (EV) battery plant to safeguard Canadian auto manufacturing jobs.

News of a potential stoppage of the project came after the Toronto Star reported Friday that Stellantis may scrap plans for the Windsor, Ont. plant if provincial and federal governments did not boost funding. This comes after Volkswagen was offered hefty subsidies from the feds to the tune of $13 billion to build in St. Thomas, Ont.

“This is as serious as it gets right now,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.

Payne added, “We've got Stellantis, LG, the federal government playing a very high stakes game and our members’ jobs and the jobs of tens of thousands of Canadians are hanging in the balance right now.”

“Our message is very clear to them,” Payne explained. “They need to get to the table and hammer out this deal. They both have made commitments here to the workers of Canada and we expect those commitments to be lived up to.”

“We're taking this very seriously and I would suggest that everybody else needs to do the same. And these parties have to come together and get the deal done,” Payne continued. “There's too much at stake and it's too important for this not to get resolved.”

Payne added, “We're talking about the entire footprint for Stellantis in Canada that is tied to this battery plant in Windsor. This is the center of what will be the EV future for this Stellantis footprint and we need this to go ahead.”

Payne noted in the coming hours and days, Unifor will continue to apply pressure and expects others will follow suit.

In an email statement to CTV News, Stellantis said the Canadian Government has not delivered on what was agreed to, and would immediately begin implementing their contingency plans, but the automaker did not clarify what those plans looked like.

In a letter released on Saturday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he expects the federal government to follow through on commitments that would see one of the world's biggest automakers build an EV battery plant in east Windsor.

Meantime, Windsor West MP Brian Masse said he’s been in touch with the mayor’s office, local Unifor leadership, and the federal the Minister of Innovation, François-Philippe Champagne.

“It's concerning there's no doubt,” Masse told CTV News. “But I'm not surprised that there'd be some type of attempt to renegotiate or do something different just because we don't have a national auto policy.”

Masse said, “One of the challenges we have is the US now has the Inflation Reduction Act and on top of that, Volkswagen has a different deal. So without a national auto policy, and terms and conditions that are written and specified, we now get complications when it comes to situations like this. So the feds and the province need to get their act together.”

Masse stressed he’s been trying to have a national auto policy created for more than 20 years, hoping a deal can be reached and more investments will follow.

“The reality is that we've put ourselves federally and provincially in this situation because we don't have an auto policy so it's just fly by the seat of your pants on a regular basis. The terms and conditions have changed since the first announcement where they did the ribbon cutting and the photos and all that fun stuff.,” said Masse. “But then the work doesn't follow to the way it should and that's what always has concerned me is the focus is not on the policy. It's on the promotion, and now it's biting us back and we've have to deal with it.”

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk said he is confident construction will continue.

“I want to reassure residents in our community that we are absolutely committed to this project,” Kusmierczyk said.

Kusmierczyk stressed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland are also engaged in discussions to reach an agreement.

“Everyone recognizes, all the partners recognize, that this is a generational investment and really, this is the future of the auto sector,” Kusmierczyk explained. “It's the future of Canada and our community and I can tell you that all partners are absolutely committed to this project, both to the battery plant investment and also the investment at Windsor assembly plant.” Top Stories

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