CEVA gone, HCL expands, Martinrea ratifies: CAW (Update)
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter2
A day that started out with what appeared to be more terrible news around job losses in London has turned into what appears to be a more hopeful situation for at least 265 workers.
On Thursday (Nov. 15), approximately 80 workers at Martinrea Automotive Systems voted 98 per cent in favour of ratifying a new contract after reaching preliminary agreement on Tuesday evening, just 90 minutes before a proposed strike deadline. The workers, who had rejected an earlier tentative agreement more than a month ago, received improvements to working conditions, compromise around workloads, as well as what Carrie called “some monetary improvements” over the previous agreement.
The Martinrea vote followed reports earlier in the day that CEVA Logistics had lost a contract with General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and that would result in the loss of 185 jobs.
However, Tim Carrie, president of Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 27, called those worries “a little premature” as talks were underway to make sure the work stays in the Forest City.
“What we are trying to work out now is the new company awarded the work, HCL Logistics, we are trying to work out an agreement with them and General Dynamics to basically have the workers from CEVA transfer over to HCL and continue to do that work,” Carrie said. “That is under the terms of the collective agreement we have today. We are in the process of getting that accomplished, but it is going to take us a few days to get that done.”
While CAW works on shifting over those CEVA jobs, HCL announced it would be expanding its London operations as a result of the GDLS contract. Tim Van Holst, president of HCL Logistics Inc., said the new contract would mean many positive changes for the company, which is a logistics and warehouse solution provider offering support services to GDLS’s production and retrofit of light armoured vehicles
“This opportunity represents great news for HCL Logistics and for the city of London,” Van Holst said in a media release. “We anticipate a significant increase in hiring as we prepare for this contract, and we expect that HCL will continue to offer stable employment for a growing workforce in London, Ont. as our business continues to expand.”
Carrie said the CEVA announcement wasn’t a total surprise for CAW, even though he didn’t know what the outcome would be around the company’s bid for a new contract with GDLS.
“You never know what will happen in this day and age, suppliers versus customers. We knew there were some issues with delivery and issues like that, but quite frankly, we weren’t sure how it was going to end up,” Carrie said. “We weren’t totally shocked, but of course it is still a surprise, it is still something we have to deal with.”
Carrie said he is “cautiously optimistic” about being able to keep the jobs in London. He added there are issues to be negotiated under the terms of the existing collective agreement, but that the union is continuing its discussions.
“I think we can find a way to keep the jobs and that is what we are trying to do,” Carrie said. “At least the work stay in London and that is absolutely crucial for our community. That is what we are trying to do.”
That sense of optimism paid off at Martinrea as Carrie said the new agreement between workers and the company prevents a “major situation” at the CAMI Automotive plant in Woodstock.
“The issues that the membership had raised when they voted down the first agreement, I believe all of them have been addressed,” Carrie said. “I am confident we will be able to put this behind us and build a new relationship.”
The 80 jobs at Martinrea, along with those 185 positions Carrie hopes will be relocated to HCL, offset the announcement yesterday that Crown North America, in St. Thomas, which used to put all the police equipment into Crown Victoria police cars, would be closing at the end of the year. At its peak, the company employed 40 workers.
“Sometimes we certainly have roller coaster days around here. I feel a little more optimistic about CEVA today based on the discussions we’ve been having with General Dynamics and the new employer,” Carrie said. “Obviously we want our members out there to continue to feel there is a good opportunity for them. What we are saying is hold on, don’t throw in the towel; we think there could be light at the end of the tunnel.”
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