January 25, 2019 / 5:22 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada union calls for boycott of GM Mexico-made vehicles

(Recasts with union call for boycott, adds details from press conference, GM statement, Canadian auto parts suppliers)

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The union representing autoworkers at General Motors' Oshawa, Ontario plant called on Canadian and U.S. consumers on Friday to stop buying GM cars made in Mexico, the latest tactic in its campaign to get the automaker back to the bargaining table.

GM has said it will close Oshawa by the end of this year, but Unifor wants GM to continue production until September 2020, when the current contract expires, hoping that provides enough time to secure the plant's future.

The closure, which GM said will affect 2,973 assembly-line jobs in Oshawa, is part of a broad restructuring aimed at cutting the automaker's costs as investments increase in electric and self-driving vehicles.

Some 650,000 GM vehicles produced annually in Mexico are sold in Canada and the United States, representing approximately $20 billion in sales, Unifor President Jerry Dias said in an interview.

Dias stopped short of calling for a total boycott of GM vehicles because Unifor also represents GM workers in Ontario who assemble the Chevrolet Equinox and work at a propulsion plant.

If the boycott does not result in negotiations with GM, Unifor would consider a strike, Dias said, adding that job action is not currently planned.

"The only way to get General Motors' attention is if we fight back," Dias said at a press conference, adding that any vehicle with a vehicle identification number, or VIN, that starts with a 3 is Mexican made.

The move could hurt the 60-plus Ontario-based auto parts companies that support production in Mexico, GM Canada said.

"The threat of collateral damage for Ontario-based auto suppliers, auto dealers and workers is concerning," spokesman David Paterson said in a statement.

The boycott may hurt such Canadian auto parts suppliers as Magna, Linamar and Martinrea, with operations in Mexico, Dias said. It will have minimal impact on Canada, which ships just 3 percent of its domestic parts to Mexico. (Reporting by Susan Taylor Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

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