GM CLOSURE: Oshawa reeling as workers face grim future

Jermaine Castillo
November 30, 2018

She added that shutting down or closing a plant is an issue that must be discussed in negotiations with the United Auto Workers. "Look at what they've done to the manufacturing footprint in this country", Dias said at a rally of Unifor Local 222 members Monday.

We've known for some time that North American consumers just aren't buying sedans much anymore, especially not North American ones. Oshawa's mayor said he had no inkling of what will be the latest blow to the city 50 kilometres east of Toronto. Though it employed 23,000 people in the city at its peak in the 1980s, workers said the number has dwindled steadily over the years.

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

On top of the previously announced closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, GM will also cease the operations of two additional plants outside North America by the end of next year.

"We've seen this before, that's for sure, but to completely close the operation, it's like death".

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.

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The GM plant in Oshawa won't be fully shuttered until the end of 2019 but officials with the automaker say that some employees will be laid off as early as this summer as production begins to "wind down". The company said five facilities in North America, including the Oshawa plant, are on the chopping block as part of a sweeping global restructuring plan that will transform its product line as it shifts focus to electric and autonomous vehicles.

OH politicians have also responded to the announcement.Arno Hill, the mayor of Lordstown, told NPR that he received a call from GM to inform him of the decision about five minutes before the news was released to the public.

GM also says it will reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 per cent, which includes 25 per cent fewer executives. "We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success".

"I spoke with GM (CEO) Mary Barra to express my deep disappointment in the closure", Trudeau tweeted on Monday.

"GM now intends to prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures", a company statement on Monday said.

On the upside, GM expects to see $6 billion in cost savings by 2020.

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"We've diversified and we have a lot of other things going on", he added.

Dias also reiterated that Unifor is willing to organize mass walkouts at GM's USA and Canadian plants in order to send a message to the company. The Impala is built at the GM plant in Oshawa.

One potential partner could be Honda Motor Co., which already has r&d relationships with GM for fuel cell and autonomous vehicles.

As many as two and a half thousand employees could lose their jobs with this closure.

"General Motors has been pulling out of Oshawa for 20 years", one worker said as he showed up for his pre-dawn shift on Monday. Workers had until November 19 to decide, and they would have to exit by the end of the year.

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