Getting Back in Gear
May 8, 2002
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Getting Back In Gear
dated May 10, 2002
It's about time the federal government in Ottawa woke up to the fact that the Canada's auto industry is in crisis, according to CAW National President, Buzz Hargrove.
CAW National President
"I want them first to recognize that the industry is in a crisis. It is going through a major restructuring that is unprecedented and the dynamics of it are changing. And they have to understand what the trends are and how you deal with them. For example, we are in a period where we have record sales. We've never sold as many vehicles as we are selling during this period, yet we have three assembly plants scheduled to close. We have parts plants that have already closed."
CAW's economist, Jim Stanford outlined the state of the auto industry to the 900 delegates at the CAW Bargaining convention in Toronto. He noted the continued decline in auto production since the free trade agreement, and pointed out that Canada is in danger of losing its position as a leading auto producer in the world. He said the 15,000 laid off autoworkers are only the tip of the economic iceberg that threatens Canada's economy.
"Every job that disappears in a major auto facility, takes 7.5 jobs with it. And that is why the auto industry was the engine of our growth in the 90's but it will be a constant wet blanket on our economy this decade unless we can turn it around."
Stanford said however, Ottawa can turn it around, if they act now.
"How do we do it? I think we can be flexible and we can be creative. The government first of all has to go to the company and say, "don't expect a free ride any more in Canada's market place. You can sell products here but you have to give something back. You've got to reduce those trade deficits by either reducing your exports here, buying more from Canada, or best of all, investing in Canada's auto industry." That's what we would like to see. That's what we used to do. Now the government sits on its hands and all the investments goes to Alabama and Mississippi and Mexico."
Former CLC and CAW national president Bob White echoed the feelings of the delegates and demanded that Ottawa get involved.
Former CLC and CAW national president
"But, God-damn it, our Prime Minister, who has a massive majority in this country with a Liberal cabinet, ought to quit talking about other things and get involved with an industrial strategy, and that includes the auto industry."
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."