Monday, 18 March, 2019

GM rejects Unifor proposals to keep Oshawa assembly plant open past 2019

The Oshawa General Motors car assembly plant is shown in Oshawa Ont. on Nov 26 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Eduardo Lima The Oshawa General Motors car assembly plant is shown in Oshawa Ont. on Nov 26 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Eduardo Lima
Russell Knight | 11 January, 2019, 14:32

"I am deeply disappointed by the response from the corporation", said Dias at a press conference in Windsor, Ont. "The company was quite adamant on defending the position and announcement they made on November 26 (to close the plant)".

GM also has not allocated new products for four US plants, raising the possibility of their closure and the elimination of a total of about 15,000 jobs in North America.

Dias said the meeting further confirmed for him how GM's executives based the plant closure decisions exclusively on "corporate greed" by moving production to Mexico where he said the company's employee wages are roughly $2 per hour.

GM officials have said the fate of the USA plants is subject to talks with the United Auto Workers union, which represents the US workers at those plants.

"Workers on the morning shift at Oshawa Assembly Plant staged a sit down to protest General Motors callous choice to close down the plant after 100 years of operation, despite the fact that the company acknowledges it could maintain the plant without injury to its current bottom line", Unifor spokesperson Kathleen O'Keefe said in an email.

"It's about corporate greed", said Dias. "We argued you can reverse those decisions and bring a vehicle back to Canada".

"We argued (during the meeting) that the door cannot only swing one way", Dias said.

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GM has said the Oshawa closure affects 2,973 assembly-line jobs. It could have went to health care and education and infrastructure.

While GM is shutting its Oshawa plant, it's not leaving Canada entirely. "That's the only acceptable solution as we stand here today". The decision, it said, was made due to a shift in consumer demand towards sports utility vehicles and trucks, and that it was also part of a strategy to have the company focus more on electric and autonomous vehicles.

The company responded the suggestions were too expensive and would further deteriorate GM's competitive position.

GM officials said they responded to Unifor proposals from December and invited the union to begin constructive discussions on transition strategies and supports for Oshawa Assembly workers who may elect to either retire or pursue new careers following their work for GM.

The General Motors auto assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario. The union has planned a rally in Windsor, Ont. Friday to coincide with a GM investor update.

Dias previously promised "one hell of a fight" to prevent the Oshawa plant's closure.

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