GM & Unifor Continue Battle Over Oshawa Plant

GM & Unifor Continue Battle Over Oshawa Plant
GM Canadian Head Office in Oshawa. (Photo: Jack Kazmierski)

GM explains its reason for the Oshawa Plant shutdown; Unifor is not satisfied.  

General Motors’ plans to shut down the Oshawa Assembly Plant after 2019 has caused a massive adverse reaction. Workers and Canadian consumers alike are now petitioning for the plant’s survival and staging walk-outs to protest GM’s decision.

“The effects of a closure would be devastating to our communities and economy. It is up to the Premier and Prime Minister to apply maximum pressure to General Motors to develop a new plan that will save the 24,000 jobs threatened by GM’s plan,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

Many Canadian consumers are supporting a boycott of GM vehicles, according to a poll commissioned by Unifor. The survey concluded that GM’s brand is at risk with a possible severe impact on sales. Moreover, Canadians are unimpressed with the lack of response from both levels of government regarding the situation.

“Our government has been clear from the start: we stand ready to play an active role to find a solution for Oshawa’s workers… GM is making a mistake by giving up on Oshawa’s workers, and we’re not about to do the same,” said the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Despite the harsh reaction, GM remains a significant employer for the Canadian job market and will keep the remaining subsidiaries and other invested ventures open within Canada. The company has also set out assurances for affected employees, providing them with a GM pension at the end of 2019, and funding to retrain at community colleges and Universities in Durham. GM found 5,000 available jobs for their employees in Durham region and GTA, with employers like Mitsubishi, OPG, their contractor Aecon, their dealers, and others.

“My priority is to have a transition plan for every Oshawa Assembly employee…and we are committing millions of dollars from GM Canada to support this effort,” said GM Canada president and managing director, Travis Hester.

Furthermore, GM will offer retired employees a significant retirement incentive pay and a $20K car voucher. Employees eligible for the Employment Assistance Program will have continued health care coverage, money for the transition to new employment, and supplemental layoff and general benefits.

GM states the reason for this closure is due to the shift in customer preference from traditional sedans to crossovers and SUVs and rapid changes in the North American car market. To keep up with demands, GM is shutting down the production of six car models – Chevrolet, Cruze, Volt and Impala, Buick LaCrosse, and Cadillac CT6 and XTS. Subsequently, the plants in charge of their production shut down too, while the economy is still strong enough for the change to proceed.

GM says that Unifor has not provided them with a viable alternative proposal, one that will not involve substantial incremental costs and further deterioration of GM’s competitive position.

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