Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

GM workers stage another sit-in at Oshawa plant

GM workers stage another sit-in at Oshawa plant

"Unfortunately, all Unifor's proposals would involve substantial incremental costs and a further deterioration of GM's competitive position", GM said, adding that "it can not pursue them" because of the weakening market in North America.

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.

"Hold on, we're not backing down" said Dias.

The closure of Oshawa's GM plant will immediately result in the loss of a combined 4,400 jobs on the assembly line and at parts manufacturers across Ontario and the job loss will only grow over time, a union-commissioned study has found.

"There would be a major ripple effect that would be felt far beyond Oshawa and even Ontario", Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a press release. "But at least he's fighting", said Dias.

The president of the union representing Canadian autoworkers says his members don't have the same government support that American autoworkers enjoy in their efforts to convince General Motors to keep plants from shutting down.

In the statement to Unifor, the company proposed it would review its timing of when certain outputs will wrap up in Oshawa this year, and discuss transition plans for workers who may elect to retire or pursue new careers.

Unifor's lobbying efforts include a TV commercial condemning GM's decision to end production at the Oshawa plant.

Furthermore, General Motors says it has identified up to 5,000 job opportunities for impacted workers at more than 20 businesses in the Durham Region and the GTA. The company says it will close five plants, four of which are in the United States. It also operates two shifts that complete final assembly on the outgoing generation of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

"The majority of people are prepared to battle GM and try to get them to change their decision", said Tony Leah, a welder at Oshawa for over 38 years.

A large rally has also been planned by the union for 10:30 Windsor on Friday - scheduled to coincide with an investors' meeting GM is hosting across the river in Detroit.

Oshawa's closure, which GM said would affect 2,973 assembly-line jobs, was announced in November as part of a broad restructuring aimed at cutting costs as investments increase in electric and autonomous vehicles.

Retraining, and finding new jobs for workers, "makes me feel optimistic that we're going to manage these adjustments reasonably well".

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