UPDATE: Jerry Dias, president of Unifor — the union that represents workers at the Oshawa plant —will fly out to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of fighting the closure.
General Motors has confirmed plans to shut down its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont. at the end of the upcoming year despite alleged contract negotiations between the union and auto maker scheduled for 2020.
The major restructuring — which also includes the closures of three plants in Detroit and one in Ohio — will also involve a move toward lower carbon emissions and future production of electric and autonomous vehicles. According to CNN, GM also plans to reduce its salaried workforce by 15 per cent, including a quarter of the company’s executives.
In a statement released Monday, GM confirmed that the Oshawa facility would no longer have any vehicles allocated to it by the end of 2019.
“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”
Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Oshawa, released a statement late Sunday claiming that GM had scheduled contract negotiations for 2020.
“Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement,” the statement read.
Workers inside the Oshawa plant walked off the job shortly before 9 a.m. (EST) upon instruction from their union.
“I can assure you of one thing: that plant is not closing without the fight of our lives,” Greg Moffat, the chair of the union told CTV on Monday. “The sooner they realize that our plant is not closing, the better off they’re going to be.”
However, both federal and provincial governments have indicated that there’s little they can do now to keep the plant open and have already shifted their focus to helping the soon-to-be unemployed workers.