Workers return to GM's Canada plant; union to meet Trudeau

Fredrick Soto
November 30, 2018

The plant is old and exhausted out.

Ford added: "To say we're disappointed is an understatement".

GM is also closing the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Detroit and the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio in 2019.

Frank Gunn/Canadian Press The GM plant in Oshawa on January 24, 2018. Not allocating product doesn't mean the plants will permanently close, but it puts their future and the jobs of roughly 6,700 hourly and salaried factory employees in the USA and Canada at risk.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in April that the Oshawa complex was headed for closure in June of this year.

When the truck plant closure was announced, a convoy of some 250 cars surrounded GM's Oshawa operations, temporarily halting production.

However, there are some legitimate concerns about what kind of ripple effect the Oshawa closure will have on the industry.

According to the automaker, the Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in MI; and the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio, each will be "deallocated" by the end of 2019 as GM reorganizes its manufacturing capacity to focus on electric and self-driving vehicles and prepares for a downturn in the auto market or a weakening on the USA economy.

"We are announcing the cessation of certain products resulting in a number of plants being without allocated volume to produce", GM spokesperson Julie Huston-Rough told NPR. They recalled how the Ontario government had helped GM Canada out with bailout money nearly 10 years ago...

The Canadian government loaned GM 10.8 billion Canadian dollars (about 8.1 billion US dollars) in 2009 to help keep the USA company afloat as it faced a possible insolvency.

The salaried work force restructuring includes cutting 15 percent of its 54,000 salaried employees in North America - more than 8,000 including cutting global executives by 25 percent.

The automaker said it would shift resources to investing in electric and autonomous vehicles.

President Donald Trump said he was "not happy" with the decision and spoke "very tough" with GM CEO Mary Barra about the moves. "We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success".

Conservative MP Erin O'Toole, who represents the riding of Durham, said on Twitter that, "from the calls I have been making tonight, it appears these reports about an end to vehicle assembly in Oshawa are true".

GM's operations are a significant part of economic growth and jobs in the city, long considered to be Canada's motor city.

Joanna Stojkovic, clutching her seven-month-old daughter, put down the phone after her GM worker husband passed on the news which started to circulate Sunday night.

"Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement", the union said in a statement. GM, Ford Motor Co. and other manufacturers have warned the USA tariffs on metals and foreign autos will drive up prices and lead to layoffs. GM had been expected to close plants because of struggling sales.

After meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dias said GM has moved production of five models of vehicles to Mexico and the United States in the past few years, and if the Oshawa plant closes, the company will have only one left here. "We supported GM years ago when they were in trouble".

GM said the closure affects a total of 2,973 assembly line jobs.

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