Horwath meets with workers at Oshawa GM plant, vows to 'fight' for their jobs
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, November 30, 2018 6:57AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 30, 2018 10:28AM EST
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath met with workers at Oshawa’s GM plant early Friday morning, saying that she is “in their corner” and ready to “fight” for their jobs.
Horwath showed up at the facility shortly before 6 a.m. and spent about an hour meeting with dozens of workers from the plant. She then participated in a meeting with Oshawa Mayor-elect Dan Carter, Durham Regional Chair-Elect John Henry and Oshawa City Manager Jag Sharma before taking part in a roundtable hosted by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce later on Friday morning.
Her visit comes in the wake of GM’s announcement earlier this week that it will close the Oshawa plant by the end of 2019 as part of a global reorganization that will see the company switch its focus to electric and autonomous vehicles.
The closure of the plant will impact more than 2,500 jobs.
“I am here to be with the workers and to say that we are going to support them as much as we possibly can and we are going to fight for them and with them,” Horwath told CP24 as she arrived at the plant. “We never give up and we are always going to be with them.”
Premier Doug Ford has said that his government is doing "everything in its power" to support workers at the Oshawa plant but has criticized union leaders and some politicians for selling “false hope.”
He has also said that "nobody in this entire country, including (Unifor President) Jerry Dias have talked to more GM workers" than he has.
Speaking with reporters on Friday, Horwath criticized Ford for his handling of the closure. She that it is important to keep “hope alive” while letting the workers know that there is someone “in their corner fighting for them.”
“There is no doubt that there have been many changes that have seen auto jobs reduced in our province and country. Technology is changing to the extent that we are going to have a whole new kind of fleet if you will with autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles,” she said. “What we need to do is make sure that we are on the leading edge of attracting that investment in Ontario and I have to say when you have a premier that cuts incentives for electric vehicles for example and has sent out a signal that he is not interested in the green economy, that makes me that much more worried for these good jobs.”
Horwath said that she is concerned about the “ripple effect” of the closure of the Oshawa plant, which she said could affect thousands of jobs in related industries.
She said that while the government needs to invest in new technology to lure new jobs to Durham Region, it also must work to protect the “decent, quality jobs” that already exist.
“It is not just a matter of fighting for these jobs – it is and we will – but it is the bigger picture as well because we need decent, quality jobs, jobs like auto jobs. I was raised on an auto job. My dad was an auto worker. I know that those kind of jobs put food on the table, provide a good quality of life and good opportunities for families and we can’t let those kind of jobs just seep away in Ontario and in Canada,” she said. “I am not a person to believe that the era of manufacturing is gone for Ontario. Everyone who says that is giving up on our province and guaranteeing that we will have a race to the bottom where none of us can even afford to buy products like cars.”