Recently a strike by an auto parts supplier caused the shutdown of the minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario. Was this part of an overall strategy leading up to tough labour talks with the Big 3 in 2012 or a case of union member’s expectations not matching what could be offered. Based on comments in the media by Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne, it appears labour talks could be challenging. The question is will the union go on strike and risk potential future investment or find a way to secure a new deal. In the past, large automotive firms did not develop large scale contingency plans to stand a work stoppage by union members. Is this about to change? The past has proven that some checks and balances need to be in place for the unions not to find themselves in the same situation they faced in 2008 with the collapse of the industry. Previously management simply avoided large scale work stoppages in favour of reaching a deal. Will 2012 see management take a more aggressive stance to ensure long term sustainability? If a more aggressive stance is going to be considered, contingency planning will be critical to ensure all risks are considered and possible mitigation strategies put in place.
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