Poloz 'confident' about hometown Oshawa after GM's planned closure

Andrew Cummings
January 11, 2019

The head of Canada's auto union blasted General Motors for pushing ahead with plans to phase out work at its Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant despite calls by workers and politicians in Canada to find a new vehicle to build there.

"It may not be profitable, but it certainly wouldn't cause them any sort of deep economic harm", said Dias.

The action came after Unifor, the union representing the autoworkers, failed to win GM's support for its proposals to save the plant.

GM stunned the North American auto industry in late November when it announced a major restructuring plan that will see up to 14,000 workers in North America lose their jobs, almost 3,000 of which are in the Oshawa Assembly Plant.

"There would be a major ripple effect that would be felt far beyond Oshawa and even Ontario", Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a press release.

Late previous year, GM announced it would cease production at the award-winning Oshawa plant at the end of 2019. He added how the Canadian governments and taxpayers also provided $11 billion in subsidies to GM at a time when it faced near bankruptcy a decade ago. "And yet Oshawa has grown and people live there and they all have jobs".

The company acknowledged the frustration that led to the work stoppages, but urged the union to instead work with the company on timing and transition plans for the approximately 2,600 unionized workers who are losing their jobs.

A union spokesperson said workers are returning back on the production line.

Furthermore, General Motors says it has identified up to 5,000 job opportunities for impacted workers at more than 20 businesses in the Durham Region and the GTA.

While GM is shutting its Oshawa plant, it's not leaving Canada entirely.

Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222 in Oshawa, speaks to the media with Unifor national leader Jerry Dias on Tuesday at the Unifor Local 444/200 hall following their meeting with General Motors executives in Detroit. The company says it will close five plants, four of which are in the United States.

A large rally has also been planned by the union for 10:30 a.m.in Windsor on Friday - scheduled to coincide with an investors' meeting GM is hosting across the river in Detroit.

In November, the same Oshawa GM workers staged a one day wildcat strike walking out of the plant.

Paterson said in a phone interview that the move in the auto market away from cars means the company has to transition away from the models, while it is too expensive and will take too long to shift other production to the already under capacity Oshawa plant.

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