Canadian labor union Unifor hosted a rally at a park in Oshawa this week to show support for the automotive workers in the region who have lost their jobs following the closure of General Motors’ Oshawa Assembly plant.
The rally was held at Oshawa’s Memorial Park and was attended by Unifor members who currently or formerly worked at Oshawa Assembly or nearby supplier plants that made parts for the vehicles built at the ill-fated factory.
The closure of Oshawa Assembly will mean the direct loss of around 2,500 GM jobs, with supplier losses projected at around 1,700 jobs. In a statement, Unifor said the rally “helped draw attention to the uphill battle faced by Oshawa workers,” and added that it will continue “to pressure employers to fund a just transition to new employment including enhanced severance agreements, extensions to heath plans, and employer contributions to an adjustment centre.”
“This rally brought together Unifor members, elected officials, and the public in solidarity with the 1,700 women and men who deserve fair and just severance for their years of hard work and sacrifice,” said Unifor Local 222 President Colin James. “All of us need to come together and stay strong as we use every tool available to us to get the best possible deal for auto parts supplier workers.”
Oshawa Assembly is set to close its doors before the end of the year, with GM deciding to kill off the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS sedans that it builds. The automaker has allotted limited metal stamping and parts production work to the plant, saving about 300 jobs, and also plans to open an advanced vehicle test track on the plot of land where it is currently located. The advanced vehicle test track is an extension of GM’s other tech-related investments in southern Ontario, such as its Canadian Technical Center in Markham.
Despite the recent downturn in Ontario’s automotive manufacturing sector, Unifor says it “will continue to use every option available to negotiate the best possible deal with independent parts supplier companies so that workers are given fair compensation.”