TORONTO - Ford Motor Co. of Canada sent about 3,700 workers at three Ontario plants home on Tuesday after some union members supported a strike at Canada's biggest railway by declining to unload rail shipments, Ford spokeswoman Lauren More said.
The move by the Canadian Auto Workers union members led to a parts shortage at the plants, More said.
The Canadian Auto Workers also represent 5,000 striking Canadian National Railways workers, who account for nearly a quarter of CN Rail's 23,000 employees.
The rail strike started last Friday after contract talks failed over wage issues.
"We did have a parts shortage at the assembly plants due to the fact that some Ford CAW members are refusing to handle inbound rail shipments that feed the line," More said.
Ford said 1,200 workers on the day shift at its St. Thomas, Ontario, assembly plant were sent home -- for a second consecutive day -- and 2,500 employees at its two Oakville, Ontario, plants, one of which is a truck plant, were also told to go home.
More said operations at Ford's Windsor, Ontario, plant were running on schedule, and the afternoon shift at the St. Thomas and Oakville assembly plants were slated to start on time. The truck plant is a single shift facility.
More said Ford, which moves about 2,500 finished vehicles a day, about 80 percent of that by rail, was not shipping out by rail either and was storing vehicles on site.
CN spokesman Mark Hallman said the railway was operating at "near normal" levels despite the strike.
"This issue at Ford is not an issue caused by CN service but by Ford CAW employees," he said. "We remain, and have been, ready, willing and able to service all of our customers."
A spokeswoman at General Motors of Canada, which ships about 20 percent of its goods by truck and the rest by rail, said the automaker has been making alternative arrangements for incoming parts shipments and shipment of finished vehicles.
"So far, we are able to get our production out, and we're probably getting close to being in a position where we're going to have to park vehicles," said Pam McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said parts coming into its plants were not unloaded by GM's CAW-represented workers but outsourced to a group whose workers are represented by the Teamsters union.
DaimlerChrysler Canada said it had seen no manufacturing disruptions either inside or outside Canada.
The automaker relies on CN to ship engine parts from a plant in Mexico to its Brampton, Ontario, facility and frames from supplier Magna International to Chrysler's Dodge Durango manufacturing site in Newark, Delaware.
"Canadian National Rail has been able to maintain 100 percent of the pre-strike service," DaimlerChrysler spokesman Dave Elshoff said.