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March 29, 2019

FCA axing third Windsor shift

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is axing a third shift at its Canadian minivan plant.

By Olly Wehring

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is axing a third shift at its Canadian minivan plant.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported the automaker plans to cut the third shift at Windsor, Ontario later in 2019 with 1,500 jobs gone.

The move to end the shift starting 30 September was to "better align production with global demand", FCA spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin told the paper.

Retirement packages would be offered to eligible employees and FCA would help to find positions for others, she added.

"The company will make every effort to place indefinitely laid off hourly employees in open full-time positions as they become available based on seniority," she told the Globe and Mail in an e-mail.

Unifor union Local 444 president Dave Cassidy said in a statement cited by the paper the decision was unexpected.

"I was shocked and disappointed that FCA has announced today the elimination of the third shift," he wrote.

"We will continue to meet with the company on alternatives of new products. We will need the support of all levels of government as we move forward."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford told the paper his government would "fight tooth and nail" to protect the jobs in Windsor.

The plant has about 6,100 employees.

The report noted FCA announced in late February it would invest US$4.5 billion in the neighbouring US state of Michigan to build a new assembly plant and upgrade other operations and create 6,500 jobs.

The Globe and Mail noted Ontario's auto industry was already reeling from General Motors' plans to end production at its assembly plant in Oshawa by the end of the year at a loss of about 2,600 union jobs.

According to just-auto's PLDB database, Windsor volume is about 75,000 units a year and it builds the Chrysler Pacific minivan and hybrid variants and Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan which compete in North America with rivals such as Toyota's US built Sienna and Honda's Odyssey.

The plant is also expected to build the next Chrysler 300 from the fourth quarter of 2019. It has vehicles allocated out to mid-2027.

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