Workers at GM Oshawa plant halt production

11 January, 2019, 14:29 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Jerry Dias

"We're asking Canadians and governments at all levels to make it clear to GM that we will hold them accountable should they decide to inflict this damage by closing a top-quality and productive plant for no other reason than corporate greed".

Workers at the General Motors plant in Oshawa are returning to the production line after a sit-down protest against the company's decision to close the plant.

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. Dias said Tuesday that the campaign will continue and will be "significant".

The company acknowledged the frustration that led to the work stoppages, but urged the union to instead work with the company on timing and transition plans for the approximately 2,600 unionized workers who are losing their jobs.

GM also said in the letter to Unifor that it hopes to work closely with the union "to seek the best possible transition" for the plant and its workers.

Those would include 4,400 jobs at GM Oshawa and its parts suppliers in Ontario that would be lost in 2020 as well as lost direct and indirect opportunities from keeping the assembly plant open for an additional five years.

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"GM today, by reconfirming their decision, has not only picked a fight frankly with Unifor, but they have picked a fight with all of Canada", said Dias.

GM has claimed its restructuring plan, including the plant closures, stands to save the company US$6 billion annually.

Dias said the union is still not be accepting the closure of our Oshawa facilities.

While Unifor vowed it will not advocate for a boycott of GM products, the union leader believes Canadian vehicle buyers are already steering away following the Oshawa plant announcement. A large rally is planned in Windsor on Friday. "When I was young in Oshawa, there were 10 times as many people working there - 75 per cent of my high school class went to work in General Motors".

When asked whether he foresees any threat by executives of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulling a similar move with the Windsor Assembly Plant - which employs 6,000 workers locally - Chiodo said there are "no major concerns" pointing to a significant difference historically in the union's dealings with the two automakers.

The labour action came after union president Jerry Dias sat down with GM on Tuesday to talk about proposals the union had made to extend the life of the Ontario plant, but came away empty-handed.

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