Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Workers at GM's Canada plant hold work stoppage over closure

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
Laurie Berry | 10 January, 2019, 00:11

"The reality is General Motors is going to have to find a solution to keep our Oshawa Plant going".

General Motors has rejected several proposals made by Unifor to keep the Oshawa Assembly Plant open past the end of the year.

'Deeply disappointed.' Unifor national president Jerry Dias speaks to the media at the Unifor Local 444/200 Hall in Windsor on January 8, 2019, following a meeting with General Motors executives in Detroit to discuss the future of GM's Oshawa Assembly Plant.

David Paterson, vice-president of corporate affairs at GM Canada, says the union should instead work with the company on timing and transition plans for the approximately 3,000 workers who are losing their jobs.

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.

Dias is expected to hold a news conference in Windsor following the meeting.

Dias said the US$22-million annual salary of company CEO Mary Barra is greater than the entire payroll of one assembly plant in Mexico.

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He also called on the federal and provincial governments to take action saying "I'm not accepting that the door is shut and neither should our governments".

Since GM's announcement, Unifor has launched an extensive public relations campaign, demanding GM save the Oshawa plant.

The meeting came a day after Unifor launched TV advertisements lambasting GM for the slated closures on networks across Canada and in Detroit, where GM plans to close the storied Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant that manufactures the hybrid Chevy Volt.

But Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, won't count out Unifor from getting some sort of deal. "GM today has not only picked a fight with Unifor, but picked a fight with all of Canada".

"We believe restructuring initiatives will further boost profitability and cash generation, while also improving cyclical resilience", analyst Richard Carlson noted to clients.

"What is equally disappointing is there was a clear acknowledgement that a solution could be found", Dias said, adding that GM recognized that it could continue operating its Oshawa facility without hurting the company's bottom line.

Unifor's national auto director Dino Chiodo, former president of Local 444 in Windsor, also expressed his frustration with GM executives following Tuesday's meeting. "It goes down to a deeper question of, does a commercial entity have an obligation to community loyalty".

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