OSHAWA, ON, Sept. 29, 2015 /CNW/ - Oshawa City Council has joined the growing number of Ontario municipalities that have passed resolutions calling on the Canadian government to defend auto jobs in trade negotiations.
The unanimous vote comes as negotiations for a Trans Pacific Partnership deal come to a head this week in Atlanta.
"Resolutions like this one show that auto communities recognize the threat posed to their communities if the TPP does not include adequate provisions for regional content and reciprocal trade," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
Ingersoll, Zorra Township and Essex County, all major auto communities, have passed similar resolutions, with more planned in other communities with a significant auto presence.
Automotive content rules have been a central controversy in TPP talks. The U.S. and Japan made a side deal that would allow vehicles to be tariff-free even if only 45 per cent of their content is made within the TPP zone, and auto parts with as little as 30 per cent.
Other concerns include rapid elimination of tariffs on Japanese imports, no guarantees of reciprocal exports to Japan and other Asian countries, and currency manipulation.
Unifor economist Jim Stanford calculated that the proposed lower thresholds would cut the required regional content by 24 percentage points, allowing a large portion of the supply chain to move out of the TPP zone. Stanford estimated that could threaten as many as 26,400 Canadian auto jobs in both parts and assembly, some $6 billion of lost auto parts shipments, and lost assembly output.
Stanford estimated about 1,250 of those jobs would be in the Oshawa area.
"If the Harper Government's negotiators allow lower content thresholds, they will be opening a huge back door to our market for products made in China and other non-TPP countries," Dias said. "That is a direct threat to thousands of good jobs here in Canada."
Dias called for measures to ensure reciprocal trade in finished vehicles. Unifor is also concerned about other proposed elements of the TPP, including tighter patent laws leading to higher drug prices, anti-democratic investor-state dispute courts, and concessions on dairy and poultry marketing boards.
To see more about Unifor's position on the TPP, including how the job risk was calculated, go to unifor.org/auto.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 40,000 in the auto sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.