Cost-savings talks between Ford’s Canadian subsidiary and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union have been continuing this week but the union said Ford had so far failed to address its key issue.
Some media reports said the negotiations had broken off, but both union and company officials denied this, Reuters reported.
“We’re having some detailed back and forth and some exchange of views regarding costs, future investment plans and that sort of thing,” CAW economist Jim Stanford said.
He added, however, that Ford had still not addressed the CAW’s main concern: that Ford guarantee a certain amount of its North American manufacturing footprint stay in Canada as General Motors and Chrysler did in deals reached with the CAW last spring.
“Ford has not remotely addressed this issue of the footprint,” he said.
Chrysler said it would keep 20 percent of future North American production in Canada in return for union concessions that lowered its costs to around those of non-union Toyota and Honda plants in Canada. GM guaranteed a Canadian manufacturing footprint of about 18% of its North American production.
The deals those companies struck with the union helped GM and Chrysler qualify for about C$14bn (US$13bn) in loans from the governments of Canada and the province of Ontario to help them survive the sharp industry downturn.
Ford, which has not needed a government bailout in Canada or the United States, has about 13% of its North American production in Canada. It has an engine plant in Windsor and an assembly plant at Oakville, west of Toronto.
The CAW said the proportion of Canadian output would fall to 8-9% once Ford closes its St Thomas, Ontario, plant in 2011 when it ends production of the large rear-wheel drive sedans made there.
“A pattern is a pattern,” Stanford said. “Our half of the pattern is these cost savings. The other half of the pattern is the company saying in return for the cost savings, we’ll maintain our presence here.”
“But you can’t ask people to give up stuff and then see their jobs disappear anyway. Nobody would vote for that.”
Ford also told Reuters talks were continuing but declined to comment on specifics.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the CAW to find additional costs savings in order to ensure the competitiveness of our manufacturing operations in Canada,” said spokeswoman Lauren More.