GM Canada and Unifor Reach an Agreement

GM Canada and Unifor Reach an Agreement
Unifor’s National President, Jerry Dias and Travis Hester, President and Managing Director of General Motors Canada announce new investments in Oshawa. (Photo: Saba Khan)

GM Canada and Unifor have reached an agreement to save hundreds of jobs with a C$170 million investment in Oshawa.

Unifor’s National President, Jerry Dias and Travis Hester, President and Managing Director of General Motors (GM) Canada held a joint news conference to announce new investments that will save hundreds of jobs in Oshawa.

According to the “Transformation Agreement,” GM will invest $170 million to transition the GM Oshawa Plant from vehicle assembly to one that is focused on stamping, related sub-assembly, and other miscellaneous activities for GM and other auto industry customers.

While the vehicle production will still be terminated at the end of 2019, about 22 hectares of the Oshawa Plant property will be remodeled into a test track for autonomous and advanced technology vehicles. This move will expand on the capability of GM’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) in Ontario.

GM Canada’s President Travis Hester says that this move will save 300 of 2,600 Oshawa jobs with the potential to grow and eventually generate additional jobs over the next few years, as the business attracts new customers.

Hester said, “This transformation plan is very significant as it positions Oshawa for a sustainable future. This agreement maximizes the support for our people and their families, and further secures Oshawa as a key in developing vehicles of the future at our new test track.”

GM helps employees

GM Canada will still be offering special relocations to Oshawa employees for jobs at some of its other Ontario operations, alongside enhanced retirement packages to retirement-eligible employees of the Plant. These retirement packages include vouchers toward the purchase of a new GM vehicle.

The transition plan for the GM Oshawa Assembly employees will also include a “Jobs Action Centre,” set to open in June 2019, when the employees will be able to plan for future career opportunities outside GM once the Plant closes. The centre will be supported by GM, Unifor and the Ontario government, and will help match employee skills with new employers’ requirements.

GM will also still be offering financial support for retraining all hourly employees who will be seeking new employment.

Dias called the agreement “innovative” and a “win” even while admitting that it wasn’t the perfect or ideal solution.

“By maintaining a footprint in Oshawa, and keeping the plant intact, we save hundreds of jobs, and this gives us the ability to build and create new jobs in the future. We are in a much better position than we were five months ago when the plant was closing,” said Dias.

Hester and Dias both stated that they were pleased with the outcome of their talks.

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