Members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Unifor formed a blockade outside General Motors’ (GM) headquarters in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada on 23 January 2019 to protest the company’s plan to shut the local assembly plant.
GM made a commitment in the 2016 collective agreement to keep the Oshawa plant open. Despite this, no production has been allocated past 2019, meaning the plant will close. Two assembly plants in the US will also close, with production shifting to Mexico.
The union sees the closure as a “betrayal” after both the Canadian and US governments bailed GM out when it went bankrupt after the financial crisis. Vehicles produced in Mexico will be predominantly for the US and Canadian market.
“Workers in Canada will not forgive GM if it continues with the plan to close the Oshawa Assembly Plant and decimate the wider community,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
“For more than 100 years Oshawa has built and supported General Motors. Today’s actions by Unifor members send the message that GM must reverse the decision to close the plant.”
GM committed in the 2016 collective agreement to keeping the plants open. Under the terms of the agreement, GM has an obligation to keep the Oshawa plant open until at least September 21, 2020, after which restructuring plans will be negotiated.
The economic activity of the Oshawa assembly plant is responsible for 30,000 jobs in the wider economy.
IndustriALL director for the automotive industry, Georg Leutert, said:
“GM says it wants to move toward new technology, with more electric and autonomous vehicles. But this closure shows that the company isn’t focused on a shining future, but on pursuing an outdated vision based on cheap labour and short-term profit.”