Union head to discuss fate of GM Oshawa plant

The General Motors car assembly plant in Oshawa Ontario.
Eduardo Lima  The Canadian Press  
THE CANADIAN PRESS

"We are not backing down... we're not going anywhere", he said. "It's about the lack of acknowledgement about the success that GM is enjoying today".

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.

As it stands General Motors in Oshawa will close down in 2019.

A Unifor commissioned study says in addition to the nearly 3,000 jobs that would be lost at GM, job losses at suppliers and in other areas would reach 14,000 over time in Ontario, and a further 10,000 elsewhere in Canada. "And yet Oshawa has grown and people live there and they all have jobs".

The workers are reacting to their National Unifor Union President Jerry Dias attempting to get GM executives to reconsider their plan to shut down that plant by the end of this year.

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

GM has, for its part, has said that the closure of the plant is necessary as it shifts its focus to electric and autonomous vehicles.

It was also unclear if any work stoppages would coincide with a Unifor rally in Windsor, Ontario on Friday. The question is do they have the political will to do so.

In Windsor on Tuesday, Dias blamed GM's decision on greed.

"They have the ability to keep a product in Oshawa which is an award-winning facility", he said. They don't care about workers or Canadians.

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A union spokesperson said workers are returning back on the production line.

"In our history, Chrysler has never approached what GM keeps doing to us time and time again", he said.

The release of the study comes one day after Dias met with GM officials in Detroit to make his case for extending the life of the Oshawa plant, though he came away from that meeting empty handed and told reporters that the auto manufacturer was guilty of "corporate greed" and was "picking a fight with all of Canada".

The union has said the decision is contrary to commitments made by GM in contract negotiations with Unifor in 2016. GM will "unallocate" production at the Oshawa factory and four others, meaning production will halt by the end of this year unless new vehicle programs are assigned to those plans.

"We know these decisions are challenging for all of us, but GM remains committed to working jointly with Unifor to facilitate and support the transition of the Oshawa Assembly workforce", the company said.

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