WINGHAM, ON—A Wescast Industries internal company memo obtained by Unifor says the Wingham foundry’s overseas owners will not close the facility, a claim the union says is dubious.
“The record of Wescast management and its owner is one of broken promises, repeated violations of the collective agreement and disrespect towards workers,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Our union is not going to take the company’s claims on faith. At this time, Wescast’s words are not worth the paper they’re printed on.”
On May 30, 2023 a memo attributable to Wescast Industries’ North American Business Unit was circulated to workers. The memo was prepared in response to Unifor’s condemnation of the company’s decision to close the foundry. In it, the company makes numerous unclear statements about its intentions that fail to address the union members’ concerns about plans to close the facility.
“Wescast workers’ livelihoods are at stake. They deserve more than a few words scrawled on a page. They deserve respect,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “If Wescast truly appreciates the blood, sweat and tears Unifor members have put into this plant for generations, then they will provide full disclosure about their intentions.”
In 2013, Wescast was purchased by Sichuan Bohong Industry Co. Ltd. based in China. Since then, the union has expressed numerous concerns about the future operations of the plant and in January, 2023 filed a grievance regarding the company’s overseas sourcing of castings from China to the North American market.
“The reality is that our collective agreement is being violated every day that this company continues to supply products our members are guaranteed to manufacture under our collective agreement,” said Joel Sutton, Unifor Local 4207 plant chair at Wescast. “It’s clear the company has already moved our work overseas and the odds of overseas work coming back is always low. If Bohong wants our trust, they have to earn it first.”
Unifor Local 4207 members met over the weekend to discuss frustrations with the situation and ways to engage the public to support workers and the foundry.
The collective agreement between Unifor and Wescast expires June 30, 2023 and both parties are set to enter contract talks this month.