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Unifor welcomes NDP auto announcement

TORONTO, Sept. 9, 2015 /CNW/ - The auto sector is a major driver of the Canadian economy, and Unifor is pleased to see that the New Democratic Party is pledging several measures to support the industry.

"It is time this country had a government that recognizes the importance of the auto sector, the many jobs it creates and the opportunities it offers our young people," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

"Industry leaders have spoken for years about the need for a clear, consistent national auto strategy, but the Harper Conservatives have failed to develop one."

"We need a government in Ottawa that understands the importance of this industry, and understands what is required to protect and grow Canada's automotive footprint."

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair this morning announced measures to increase investment in the auto industry, boost research and development and plans to call an auto summit of government, business and labour leaders after the election.

"We look forward to working with the next government of Canada to implement a strategy to ensure the industry's continued prosperity," Dias said.

"The auto sector is absolutely vital to the future success of Canada's economy," Dias said.  "Our industry has suffered from the lack of a well-planned, consistent, and effective national auto strategy." 

Dias emphasized the importance of Mulcair's commitment to defend North American content rules in trade negotiations – including in Trans-Pacific Partnership, where the U.S. and Japan reached a secret deal which would dramatically reduce automotive content. 

"Watering down the content thresholds amounts to opening a huge back door to our market for products made in China and other non-TPP countries," Dias argued. 

Dias said the auto industry is essential to growing the Canadian economy, noting that every job in a major auto plant creates nine more in the broader economy - in everything from parts suppliers to the shops and services where auto workers spend their wages.

"Their wages also go to support local schools and hospitals and other important government services through the taxes they pay," Dias said.

"The Harper Government drove us into recession with its disastrous economic policies. It is refreshing to see the NDP committing to building a strong and diversified economy." 

Dias, who began his working life at the Bombardier Aerospace plant in Downsview, said the auto policy announced today, in combination with an aerospace policy announced by the NDP on Tuesday, shows the importance of manufacturing is gaining the recognition it deserves. 

"Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Canada has been in recession. Federal strategies for auto and aerospace can help pull us out."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 40,000 in auto assembly and parts. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.