Work to rule at GM plant

Gladys Abbott
January 11, 2019

GM executives met with Jerry Dias, president of the union representing about 2,500 Oshawa auto workers on Tuesday, to discuss the proposals brought forward by Unifor in December that would keep the Oshawa facility open past 2019.

"Should GM proceed with plans to close Oshawa, the economic impact would be substantial, both in the short and long term".

Unifor president Jerry Dias will update the media at the union hall in Windsor after a meeting with GM in Detroit on the future of the Oshawa assembly plant.

"They talked about the inevitable closures in the United States and now they're saying we'll deal with it with the UAW in collective bargaining", said Dias.

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.

While different parts of production were shut down Wednesday morning, the entire line was halted intermittently, said Unifor spokeswoman Kathleen O'Keefe. 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.

The General Motors carmaker has had a major presence in the Oshawa area for some 100 years.

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But the company's current stance won't stop Unifor and its leaders from continuing to fight, Dias said.

David Paterson, vice-president of corporate affairs at GM Canada, told The Canadian Press the union should instead work with the company on timing the transition for affected workers. GM said it has identified job opportunities, is willing to pay for retraining, and is open to negotiations on packages for workers on top of what is already included in contracts.

Dias alleged company officials had "acknowledged they could continue to build the programs that are now in place in Oshawa", and keeping the plant open "wouldn't hurt the company's bottom line".

Workers on the evening shift Tuesday night also stopped working, causing the assembly line to stop. The union has planned a rally in Windsor, Ont. Friday to coincide with a GM investor update.

With the GM world headquarters towers looming in the Detroit background, a billboard message from Unifor on Wyandotte Street East in Windsor, shown January 8, 2019, has a message about the automaker's Oshawa Assembly Plant.

GM officials say they have been contacted by more than 20 large employers across Durham Region and the GTA interested in hiring GM workers for up to 5,000 positions they plan to fill over the next two years.

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