Workers at GM's Oshawa facility hold work stoppage over planned closure

Jerry Dias

Workers at the General Motors plant in Oshawa won't be on the job Wednesday as they stage another sit-in, as the company moves ahead with plans to close operations by the end of the year.

In expressing his disappointment in GM's decision, Dias said he was disgusted with what he characterized as the silence of the provincial and national governments in Canada.

The release of the study comes one day after Dias met with GM officials in Detroit to make his case for extending the life of the Oshawa plant, though he came away from that meeting empty handed and told reporters that the auto manufacturer was guilty of "corporate greed" and was "picking a fight with all of Canada".

"We're looking at tens of thousands of jobs and a direct hit to the GDP", said Unifor president Jerry Dias in a statement.

The meeting came after GM's "accelerated transformation" announcement on November 26, 2018, which would see the Oshawa plant close in 2019.

After he returned from the meeting with GM, Dias told reporters in a press conference in Windsor, Ontario, that the union was looking at its legal options regarding whether the Detroit company violated the labor contract.

A union spokesperson said workers are returning back on the production line. He added how the Canadian governments and taxpayers also provided $11 billion in subsidies to GM at a time when it faced near bankruptcy a decade ago.

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

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But the company's current stance won't stop Unifor and its leaders from continuing to fight, Dias said.

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

Dias said the meeting further confirmed for him how GM's executives based the plant closure decisions exclusively on "corporate greed" by moving production to Mexico where he said the company's employee wages are roughly $2 per hour.

Poloz, who is from Oshawa, said he doesn't like to see the shrinking footprint of GM in the city but is hopeful for its future.

Unifor has refused to consider negotiations on a shutdown of Oshawa. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra promised in early December to keep an "open mind" about another affected plant, Ohio's Lordstown Assembly.

GM officials have said the fate of the US plants is subject to talks with the United Auto Workers union, which represents the USA workers at those plants.

GM says they are ready to discuss support and transition packages for workers.

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