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Workers walk off the line prior to GM confirming Oshawa Assembly Plant closure

November 26, 2018  

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Workers at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont. have walked off the job as they wait to learn more about the future of the facility.

According to CTV News, many morning-shift workers were seen leaving the plant shortly after 9 a.m. Monday. Several told reporters that they had been instructed to leave by their union.

“There’s people in there bawling their eyes out. We can’t get any answers,” one man told reporters.

General Motors Canada has officially confirmed that it is closing its Oshawa plant this morning, in a move that will affect thousands of jobs in the city east of Toronto.

The announcement was leaked on Sunday to the Canadian Press, with details of the closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant including that it was part of the company’s shift in the it’s global production and has nothing to do with the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, yesterday said the shift also affects GM operations in other countries, and the Oshawa facility is the only Canadian plant that will be shuttered.

GM also operates manufacturing facilities in St. Catharines and Ingersoll, Ont.

The plant closure is part of a global restructuring of GM as it shifts focus to lower emitting hybrid vehicles, which is not the focus of the Oshawa plant. GM has informed the Canadian government of the plan.

GM opened its factory in Oshawa, near Toronto, in 1953. The plant used to make the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans as well as the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.

Unifor, the union representing more than 2,500 workers at the Oshawa plant, said in a statement that it has been informed that there is no product allocated to the Oshawa plant past December 2019.

“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 union said in a statement on its website.

Unifor is scheduled to hold a discussion with General Motors later today and will provide further comment following that meeting.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry said he had heard about the reported closure from CTV News on Sunday, which first reported the story, when a reporter called him for comment earlier in the day.

He said in a phone interview that the plant closure would have ripple effects well beyond the city of roughly 170,000.

“It’s going to affect the province, it’s going to affect the region.… The auto industry’s been a big part of the province of Ontario for over 100 years.

“This country has also invested a lot in General Motors,” he added, referring to the 2009 bailout that saw the federal and provincial governments invest billions in GM and Chrysler to keep the companies afloat.

Federal and provincial politicians also weighed in on the reported closure, expressing concern for the thousands of high-paying jobs at the Oshawa plant — as well as the potential trickle-down effect a closure could have.

Jennifer French, who represents Oshawa in the provincial legislature, said she finds the news “gravely concerning.”

“If GM Canada is indeed turning its back on 100 years of industry and community — abandoning workers and families in Oshawa — then this is a callous decision that must be fought,” she said in a statement.

(Canadian Press / National Post / CTV News)

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