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Car exhaust manifold.

Union Claims Automotive Foundry Will Close

June 6, 2023
The future of Wescast Industries’ ferrous foundry in Ontario is up for debate, with Unifor predicting a July shutdown and the management stating an extensive evaluation is planned.

A Canadian labor union claims Wescast Industries is planning to close its Wingham, Ont., foundry operation in July, eliminating approximately 250 workers’ jobs, and relying instead on affiliated operations in China to supply castings for a parallel machining operation.

“Last week, Wescast Industries communicated to Unifor its intention to close the Wingham foundry while continuing to source castings directly from sister operations in China,” according to the union’s statement. It added that “overseas sourcing of the castings violates program commitment guarantees in the collective agreement and is the subject of a prior grievance filed by the union earlier this year.”

Unifor and Wescast are due to begin negotiations this month on a new collective-bargaining agreement to replace the current terms, which will expire on June 30.

The Wingham green-sand foundry manufacturers SiMo and ductile iron exhaust manifolds, exhaust assemblies, exhaust elbows, and brake housings, as part of a foundry and machining business with operations in Europe and Asia. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. are among the automakers supplied by Wescast’s Ontario operations.

Wescast Industries was acquired by Sichuan Bohong Co. Ltd. in 2013.

The company disputes the union’s claim, explaining in an employee memo obtained and published by the union, that its plan is for a temporary shutdown in July 2023, to conduct “an extensive evaluation on the facility to determine what would be necessary to bring the Wescast Castings facilities in Wingham … back to being world-class facilities. When this evaluation is complete, the information will be presented to the ownership group with the expectation that they will approve the significant investments that will be necessary … to be profitable again well into the future.”

The memo said the shutdown is expected to last six to eight months.