Oshawa GM plant to close, affecting thousands of jobs
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Sunday, November 25, 2018 6:19PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 25, 2018 11:18PM EST
General Motors Canada is expected to announce that it is closing all operations in Oshawa, affecting approximately 2,500 jobs.
Multiple sources told CTV News that the announcement about the closure is expected to happen on Monday morning.
The move would affect approximately 2,500 unionized positions and 300 salaried employees. However thousands of other jobs could be affected in related industries, such as auto parts manufacturing.
Unifor, which represents the workers, said in a statement Sunday night that it has received notification from GM that there will be a “major announcement tomorrow” that will impact its global operations.
“While the union does not have complete details of the overall announcement we have been informed that, as of now, there is no product allocated to the Oshawa Assembly Plant past December 2019,” Unifor said in its statement. “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.”
An announcement of no product allocation would not necessarily mean a closure. The union said that it has a meeting scheduled with General Motors tomorrow and will have further comment after learning more.
“I’m hoping it’s just a rumor,” outgoing Oshawa Mayor John Henry said. “Until we hear something, we don’t know.”
Henry, who himself has family members who work at GM, said Oshawa has played a big part in the success of General Motors.
“My entire family has worked at General Motors,” Henry said. “My dad was a foreman in the plant. I have two brothers in the plant. My sister worked there in university. I worked there as a contractor. So it’s a big part and I’m just a typical family in Oshawa.”
Henry said there had been “no heads up” for the city or the region about the news.
In a statement Sunday night, Oshawa MPP Jennifer French called the development “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,” French wrote.
She called on the provincial PC government to fight to save the plant.
“Words cannot fully describe the anxiety that my community is feeling at this moment,” French wrote.
Other Oshawa representatives also weighed in, expressing concern Sunday night.
“Extremely concerned about reports regarding potential closure of GM Canada Oshawa operations. @ColinCarrie & I are reaching out for information,” Durham MP Erin O’Toole wrote on Twitter.
Carrie, the MP for Oshawa, called the news “very concerning.”
In a further statement released late Sunday, Carrie said the closure of GM’s operations would affect the “economic wellbeing of families, pensioners, and those whose jobs are tied to this plant.”
“The closure of this plant will have a ripple effect like we have never seen before,” Carrie said in the statement. “There are tens of thousands of feeder jobs that originate from this plant alone. My colleagues and I are closely monitoring the situation.”
He added that the community deserves “more than rumours.”
In a tweet, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called word of the closure “terrible.”
“This is terrible news tonight for thousands of auto workers and their families,” Scheer wrote. “My heart goes out to all those affected by this devastating decision. Conservatives will monitor this closely and stand up for those affected.”
The indications are that the closure may be part of a global restructuring of the company and that there could be other plant closures around the world, sources said.
It’s not clear whether other GM jobs in Markham, Ingersoll and St. Catharines could be affected as well.
A spokesperson for GM said in an email Sunday night that the company had no news or comment to share and would not comment on “speculation.”
At one point GM’s Oshawa operations employed around 40,000 people.
With reports by CTV News Toronto Reporter Miranda Anthistle and CP24 Reporter Leena Latafat.