Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Canada blindsided by GM Oshawa closure, workers walk out in protest

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Unifor national president Jerry Dias meet in Ottawa Tuesday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Unifor national president Jerry Dias meet in Ottawa Tuesday
Kelvin Reese | 30 November, 2018, 03:19

A source familiar with the situation has told The Canadian Press that General Motors Canada will shutter the plant as part of a shift in global production that will also affect operations in other countries.

"We will fight for Unifor Local 222 members to keep these good paying jobs at [the] Oshawa assembly plant", Mr. Dias said. In Detroit, it plans to halt production of the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Volt in March and the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala in June. United States consumers are buying sports utility vehicles (SUV's) and trucks more than traditional four-door cars.

The official said it is part of a global restructuring of GM as they shift focus to lower emitting hybrid vehicles, which is not the focus of the Oshawa plant.

Prior to the confirmation, Unifor said a decision to close the Oshawa plant would not align with the latest collective agreement, signed in 2016.

"We aren't giving up", he told workers. "This is a change that is personal and it is family here for us".

"I've moved my family twice for this company and they do this to me", a tearful worker told CBC-TV as he left the plant. They are meant to be proactive steps to ensure GM for the future.

Oshawa, he said, has one of the largest community health-care networks in Canada and is home to post-secondary education facilities as well as advanced manufacturing.

Automotive consultant Dennis DesRosiers said he expects many suppliers will pick up other contracts from GM and others to minimize impacts, but that not all will be able to replace the work. He said that decision-makers in the city and across the region need to "apply every ounce of energy" they can to "find an innovative way to use and employ" the affected workers. This notion that somehow because we are an hour away we are not affected is absolutely not true.

"We started this transformation in 2015", Barra said. "The bottom line is we have to explore what those options are, both for those people and for our own well-being".

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Premier Doug Ford is acknowledging a very hard day for GM and its suppliers, after learning of the closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant. "That is something I see as part of my responsibility".

Second, I want the people of Oshawa and the Durham Region to know that our government will always stand with you. This is a critical sector for our economy.

GM's operations are a significant part of economic growth and jobs in the city, long considered to be Canada's motor city.

"If GM Canada is indeed turning its back on 100 years of industry and community - abandoning workers and families in Oshawa - then this is a callous decision that must be fought", she said in a statement on Sunday, adding that she hopes the province joins her in the fight.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford have not commented publicly about the issue.

A former Canadian auto executive said it would be hard for Canadian government officials to entice GM further to keep the plant open.

OH politicians have also responded to the announcement.Arno Hill, the mayor of Lordstown, told NPR that he received a call from GM to inform him of the decision about five minutes before the news was released to the public.

Trudeau tweeted on Monday that he "spoke with GM's Chief Executive Mary Barra to express his deep disappointment in the closure".

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