Unifor's Dias: Re-opening Canadian GM facilities will depend on settlements in the U.S. strike
The General Motors Co. assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. will be shut down Friday amid spillover from worker strikes in the United States, according to the head of the union representing Canada’s auto workers.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias told BNN Bloomberg of the temporary closure of the facility, whose future was thrown into doubt after GM placed it on the chopping block last year. It was later spared from permanent closure after the automaker and union agreed to a dramatic overhaul of the facility earlier this year.
“Once they go down, the only way that the plants are going to re-open is if there’s a settlement in the United States,” Dias said in a television interview Thursday. “The parts that go into our vehicles in Oshawa come from the United States. If they’re not working, nobody will be working.”
It was announced Wednesday that about 1,200 GM employees at the Oshawa plant were temporarily laid off because of the strike south of the border, which saw nearly 50,000 American workers walk off the job Monday.
Meanwhile, Greg Pardy, Unifor’s local president in St. Catharines, Ont., told BNN Bloomberg the plant’s V8 and V6 assembly lines will be idled Monday until the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike in the U.S. ends.
GM Canada told BNN Bloomberg in a statement Thursday approximately half of the production at the Oshawa plant has been impacted by the UAW strike, but that operations at the CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., and operations at its St. Catharines were thus far unaffected, adding it will “continue to monitor the situation.”
Dias said union discussions with GM in the U.S. and Canada will likely evolve as pushback mounts against the company for moving production out of those countries.
“I think GM understands that there’s been a huge blowback from American and Canadian consumers,” he said. “General Motors is under a microscope right now for good reason – the reason of course is the fact that they’re going to build almost one million vehicles in Mexico.”
“People are watching it now.”
Unifor is gearing up for negotiations with GM next year, which Dias said will focus on how to retain jobs as the company shifts its focus to electric vehicle production.
“There’s no question in my mind that [GM’s] actions will make negotiations in 2020 here in Canada all that more difficult.”