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General Motors to phase down operations in Oshawa

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Nov 26th, 2018

A century of automobile manufacturing is set to come to an end following reports General Motors is shutting down its Oshawa assembly plant.

Sources tell 680 NEWS that GM is set to announce it will be phasing out operations over the course of the next year at the plant, which dates back to 1918.

“We have no news or comment tonight and won’t be commenting to others on speculation,” read a brief statement released by David Paterson, the Vice President for Corporate & Environmental Affairs for GM Canada.

John Henry, the mayor of Oshawa, says he’s “shocked” and he hopes reports of the pending closure are “just a rumour.”

“I’m concerned, I haven’t heard from General Motors yet and I’m waiting to hear what the story or announcement is tomorrow,” Henry tells 680 NEWS. “I’m curious to know the reasons, I’m curious to know why we weren’t informed or who has been informed. They’ll be a lot of questions. Is this part of something that’s happening across Canada? There’s a lot of pieces to this story.”

Jennifer French, MPP for Oshawa, says she finds the report of the plant closure “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.

“GM didn’t build #Oshawa. Oshawa built GM,” French added in a tweet.

Dr. Colin Carrie, the Member of Parliament for Oshawa, called the reports “very concerning.”

The closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant is part of a shift in the company’s global production and has nothing to do with the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a source familiar with the situation told The Canadian Press Sunday.

In a statement, Unifor says it was informed on Sunday that GM would be making a major announcement that will impact its global operations, including the Oshawa assembly plant.

“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,” read the 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.”

According to the company’s website, the Oshawa Assembly Plant employs 2,522 workers with Unifor Local 222.

The Oshawa announcement also raises questions about the future of GM operations in Ingersoll, which currently produces the third-generation Chevrolet Equinox, and the St. Catharines engine operations, which produces engines and transmissions that are shipped to 10 different GM assembly plants across North America.

In 2009, GM shut down truck assembly at the plant, citing high gas prices and a deep recession caused by the financial crisis. At that time, GM agreed to keep 16 per cent of its continental production in Canada through 2016 as part of a multi-billion dollar bailout by both the Ontario and Federal governments.

In 2015, assembly of the Chevrolet Camaro in Oshawa ended and in 2016, assembly of both the Chevrolet Impala and Equinox came to an end.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report


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