ford edge oakvilleplantClick image to enlargeIn the worst-kept secret of 2020, Ford Motor Co. of Canada, Ltd. has confirmed a $1.8-billion investment to be the first automotive manufacturer in Canada to build fully battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

"This is the single biggest investment in the Canadian auto industry in years providing long-term job security for Unifor members," said Jerry Dias, Unifor president. "This agreement is perfect timing and positions our members at the forefront of the electric vehicle transformation, as the Oakville plant will be a key BEV supplier to the North American and European Union markets."

The announcement comes after Unifor members voted to ratify the new three-year national labour agreement.

Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex in Oakville, Ont. from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024.

Ford is also introducing a new engine program at its Windsor, Ont. operations. The automaker has committed to source new 6.X L engines to the Windsor Engine Plant and sole source 5.0L engine assembly and current component machining to the Essex Engine plant, along with any derivatives.

As part of the three-year agreement, Unifor has agreed to several operational improvements to increase the efficiency of Ford's Canadian facilities, including alternative work schedules to maximize production flexibility, and a higher ratio of temporary employees.

Aside from the electric vehicle and engine investment, Ford has agreed to two 2.5 per cent wage increase over the life of the agreement. Each full-time, permanent worker will receive a $7,250 signing bonus. Temporary employees will receive $500. Finally, new hires will reach full benefit status in eight years, down from 11.

"Working collaboratively with Unifor, and as discussions continue with both the federal and provincial governments, this agreement is an important step toward building a stronger future for our employees, our customers and our communities," said Dean Stoneley, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. "By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing."

Unifor will begin negotiations with Fiat Chrysler next, with GM Canada third on the list for pattern bargaining.

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