GM restart in Canada will be slow, costly, Unifor says

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Unifor said GM will modify all general ventilation air houses at CAMI to run with 100-percent fresh-air intake “effectively quadrupling our fresh-air intake running with zero recirculation.” 

“Normally at this time of year, we are running at about 25-percent fresh-air intake and 75 percent is recirculated air. The cost is obviously going to go up.”

GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright wouldn’t immediately say how much the operating changes will cost the automaker.

GM will also turn on “as many exhaust fans as possible,” the union said.

Clean work stations

CAMI is also unique in that hourly employees rotate jobs every shift — some every hour, others quarterly during a shift — and that means an increased sharing of tools, work stations and tables. No other Detroit 3 factory operates that way. It presents health and safety concerns for Unifor, said Van Boekel.

“We are in talks with the company about the amount of time you’re going to get paid to clean your work area,” Van Boekel said. 

In a telephone interview with Automotive News Canada, Van Boekel said his members “love the rotation and they love the variety” and “would kill me if we eliminated it.” So rotation is likely to continue, but maybe not with as much frequency for the time being, he said.

“We’re trying to make it so you rotate every four hours,” he said.

Other changes inside the plant include larger break areas, with added tables. Break areas will be cleaned twice per shift Lockers have been spaced apart and eliminated in some cases to make more room. Masks and safety glasses are now mandatory throughout the plant.

Wright said “the work place is going to look different for everyone.”

Van Boekel told Automotive News Canada he’s been in the plant every day for three consecutive weeks working on the changes.

He said half his members are calling him, “ready to get back to work” while “the other half has anxiety about going back, saying ‘we’ll never be completely safe.’”

“We listen to both camps,” he said. “But I’ve got a wife and three kids, and I go home to them every night. If I didn’t think it was safe, I wouldn’t be in there.”

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Saurabh Shukla

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