GM's Oshawa Assembly to Stay in Company Hands, Switch Roles
All this GM assembly plant news dropping today…
Announced Wednesday, GM’s Oshawa Assembly, Canada’s oldest auto plant, will not close permanently come the end of the year. After product disappears from its expansive confines later in 2019, the plant will swap hats, leaving its auto manufacturing role in the past. Unfortunately for employees, while some of the plant’s 2,600 workers stand to retain their employment, most will not.
Earlier today, GM Canada and autoworkers’ union Unifor announced a “Transformation Agreement” aimed at retaining some employment at the plant and converting the facility for other uses. There’s $170 million (CAD) in company cash backing up the plan.
Oshawa Assembly, like Lordstown and Detroit-Hamtramck, found itself free of future product after GM announced cost-cutting measures last last year. Since then, Unifor has thrown every tactic it can muster at the situation, leading to walkouts and a boycott of Mexican-made GM vehicles.
So, what does this metamorphosis entail? Once the old-generation GM pickups dry up, along with the Cadillac XTS, the plant’s role will switch to “one focused on stamping, related sub-assembly, and other miscellaneous activities for GM and other auto industry customers,” the automaker said.
As well, “GM will convert part of the Oshawa Plant property into a test track for autonomous and advanced technology vehicles – further expanding the capability of GM’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) in Ontario.”
Through these changes, GM Canada expects to save 300 jobs at the plant, though Unifor President Jerry Dias sees it as a door to additional hiring.
“By maintaining a footprint in Oshawa, and keeping the plant intact, we save hundreds of jobs and this gives us the ability to build and create new jobs in the future,” Dias said in a statement. “We are in a much better position than we were five months ago when the plant was closing.”
In addition to the plant switcharoo, the automaker announced “enhanced” retirement packages to the plant’s workers, special relocations for some workers to other GM operations in the province, and a retraining program for Oshawa employees unable to land work within the company.
“A ‘Jobs Action Centre’ will be opened in June 2019, in Oshawa to enable employees to plan now for future career opportunities outside GM following the end of Oshawa vehicle production in December 2019,” the automaker stated. The program draws financial support from the automaker, Unifor, and the Ontario government.
[Image: General Motors]
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