Trudeau meets with Unifor as GM set to shutter Oshawa plant

General Motors Canada Headquarters Oshawa Ontario

General Motors announced plans Monday to close five plants in the United States and Canada in 2019, idling thousands of blue- and white-collar workers.

Tory said that the workers who will be affected by the closing of the Oshawa plants as "very skilled" people, who are among "the best at what they do in the world".

Unifor president Jerry Dias said General Motors "just showed the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada their middle finger" by moving production out of Canada and the US and threatening the jobs of about 2,500 workers he represents at the Oshawa plant.

During a press conference on the closure Monday afternoon, Scheer said that his party would be calling for the debate "so parliamentarians can talk about what can be done".

GM also said it will reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 per cent, which includes 25 per cent fewer executives. The city has a long history of labor unrest.

GM announced that the Oshawa Assembly Plant will be "unallocated in 2019", meaning the plant will be closing with no product to make.

During a 1996 strike, amid rumors that the company would try to restart production, a group of workers took over the plant, welding the doors shut behind them.

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In the meantime, Dias said, the Liberals should put tariffs on GM exports coming out of Mexico to dissuade the company from following through on its plans.

"The impact to GM's total vehicle build is expected to be quite minimal at this point in time meaning we will still be supplying product to the powertrain programs that supply those vehicle platforms at expected volumes", said Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz in an emailed statement.

Patterson said that the Oshawa plant has the capacity to run six shifts day but for the last several years had only been running three shifts. "We think it's appropriate to do it at a time, and get in front of it, while the company is strong and while the economy is strong".

Production at the plant began on November 7, 1953, and in the 1980s the plant employed roughly 23,000 people.

Bains said the consumer preferences were the basis for the decision and the closure was related to the decline in demand for GM's sedan vehicles and increased demand for vehicles like trucks.

Last week, the Canadian government gave corporations like GM a tax giveaway of 14 billion Canadian dollars (about 10.5 billion USA dollars) to guarantee jobs remain in Canada.

GM began making automobiles in Oshawa in 1908. Two transmission plants - one in White Marsh, Md., and another in Warren, Mich. - are also set to stop production.

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