Former Liberal Minister Believes Nemak Making a Mistake

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A former Liberal cabinet minister believes Nemak is making a mistake.

Navdeep Bains was in Windsor-Essex on Thursday to support local Liberal candidates in the upcoming federal election. He told reporters Nemak should not be leaving the region.

The former Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development says he has talked to the union along with the company and told both of them, that the government wants to be part of the solution.

He says the Liberals support the workers at Nemak.

"First of all we understand how difficult it is for the workers, for their families in the community but we recognize the automotive sector is so critical not only to this community but right across Canada and we are there to support the workers," says Bains.

Bains says the auto sector is so critical to Windsor-Essex and right across the country.

"I had a meeting with {Unifor National President} Jerry Dias along with Sandra {Pupatello} as well to talk about the fact that Nemak is making a mistake, that Nemak should not be leaving this region," he says.  "We understand how important it is to create good quality jobs here and we want to find a solution."

Bains was in the region on Thursday to campaign with Essex Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga and Windsor West candidate Sandra Pupatello.

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Workers protest at the Nemak Plan in west Windsor, September 5, 2019. (Photo by AM800's Gord Bacon)

The workers have been blockading the entrance to the west-end plant since Labour Day Monday, rejecting a court order to end the action. Unifor says Nemak signed a contract promising workers to keep the plant operating until 2022, not next year.

Nemak issued a statement on Thursday, after the two sides talked on Wednesday on a conference call and in a face to face meeting.

The company says throughout these two negotiation attempts, the union members said they are not interested in making their position flexible, and they are not negotiating anything less than Nemak rescinding the plant closure announcement and keeping the plant open at least until January 2022.

Nemak says it is not able to continue operations of the Windsor facility until January 2022 given the current volumes that make us operate at less than 10 percent capacity utilization.

At a rally outside the plant on Thursday, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said they'll stay on the blockade line as long as it takes.

"We're here because we're not taking this crap anymore" blasted Dias. "And Nemak if you don't like it you can kiss my union ass."

Dias says he dislikes the idea of the company getting Ontario courts to do their dirty work and, in his speech, he made it clear the only way this issue will be resolved is at the bargaining table.

The two sides are scheduled to return to court on Friday at 2 p.m. over contempt of court charges filed by Nemak after the union ignored a ruling by the Labour Relations Board and a judge, calling for the unlawful strike to end.