GM CAMI factory workers return to work after being laid off for six months

GM CAMI factory workers return to work after being laid off for six months

Unionized workers at the GM CAMI BrightDrop EV plant in Ingersoll, Ont. they have returned to work after being laid off for six months.

“We left in mid-October, that’s when the plant shut down, so yeah, it’s nice to finally welcome people back,” said Unifor 88 Plant Chairman Mike Van Boekel.

About 900 workers will be on a two-week rotation, which began this week.

Van Boekel said about 450 workers are on the first shift, with another 450 starting on the next shift.

He said skilled workers have also returned to work.

“Our skilled tradesmen are all hands on deck,” said Van Boekel.

Production of the BrightDrop electric delivery vehicle was halted last fall due to battery delays. A new on-site battery factory opened last week at CAMI, employing 200 people.

Van Boekel said he is hopeful that the new plant will help solve some of the supply issues in the future.

The BrightDrop electric vehicle as seen at CAMI’s official reopening ceremony on December 5, 2022. (File)

“It’s a big program, it’s the first in Canada so there’s a lot to learn,” Van Boekel explained. “A lot to do with our skilled craftsmanship. A lot to do with the engineers. It’s coming but it’s slow, we’re getting there. There are always speed bumps. But it’s high technology, everything is new, but hopefully we can get this under our control soon, and we hope to release the full version soon.

While sales of passenger EVs have declined, Van Boekel said they hope CAMI’s saving grace is that it makes a purpose-built commercial electric vehicle.

“They just go around delivering, doing a set route of two or three hundred kilometers or less, and it’s just one payment. He charges at night and just keeps going,” he said.

Van Boekel said he expects CAMI to return to full production “within a calendar year.”