Workers at General Motor's Canada plant hold work stoppage over closure

Mae Love
January 10, 2019

The workers are reacting to their National Unifor Union President Jerry Dias attempting to get GM executives to reconsider their plan to shut down that plant by the end of this year.

While Unifor vowed it will not advocate for a boycott of GM products, the union leader believes Canadian auto buyers are already steering away following the Oshawa plant announcement.

"Workers are now returning to the line with production expected to resume shortly".

"We studied all of the different proposals in detail, some of which we studied in detail before, and they all added substantial incremental cost and they would not address the economic situation that we have with the shift in the marketplace".

As it stands General Motors in Oshawa will close down in 2019. Retirement benefits include about $3,500 a month, a $20,000 vehicle voucher, and a lump sum payment of about $50,000, said Paterson.

"Our members were watching the press conference, and when they listened to what we had to say, they didn't go to work", he said.

"We understand they're perhaps not ready for that discussion".

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.

"We are not backing down... we're not going anywhere", he said.

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"This is about greed", he said.

"Unifor presented General Motors with solid options to maintain production in Oshawa last month", Dias said in a release.

A large rally has also been planned by the union for 10:30 a.m.in Windsor on Friday - scheduled to coincide with an investors' meeting GM is hosting across the river in Detroit. One of the plants is the Detroit Hamtramck Poletown plant set to close in July.

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.

But Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, won't count out Unifor from getting some sort of deal.

On the question of public funding, Volpe said Canada shouldn't dismiss the idea outright given the losses associated with closure. "GM today has not only picked a fight with Unifor, but picked a fight with all of Canada".

BMO Capital Markets cited the restructuring as a key factor on Monday when it upgraded GM to outperform and raised its price target to $41 from $38.

BMO also credited the upgrade to GM's self-driving unit, Cruise, which BMO will include in its valuation of the company for the first time.

"Our position is clear that we expect GM to allocate product and continue plant operations past 2019". "The reality is that GM can reverse its decision".

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