General Motors Canada will slowly return to work in the coming weeks, Canadian labor union Unifor said in a video released Thursday.
While GM Canada’s St. Catharines Powertrain plant will come back online on May 11th, only about 100 paid employee volunteers will return to the facility at that time. The plant will slowly return to full capacity after that, but it’s not clear how long that may take.
Additionally, the automaker’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll is also set to undergo a staggered restart sometime this month. Unifor Local 88, which represents workers at the plant, indicated the north end of the CAMI plant will come back online first with a “skeleton crew” of employees performing limited paint shop, welding and stamping work on day shifts only. The plant will then transition to a full week of production in the second week under a single shift. On week three of the plant restart, it will move to a two-shift production schedule, but it has not said when it will begin a full three-shift rotation.
Unifor also outlined a number of ways it will try to keep workers safe at the CAMI plant. There will be a one hour gap between each shift to separate employees as they come in and out of the plant and employees will also receive a certain amount of time to clean and sanitize their work stations between job rotations. CAMI employees typically rotate their job stations every 1 hour, but the automaker is looking at changing this to every four hours.
The union says GM Canada is modifying the air circulation system in the plant to run on 100% fresh air intake, as well. Unifor says the plant typically runs with “about 25-percent fresh-air intake and 75 percent is recirculated air,” during this time of year. It is not clear how much these modifications will cost GM Canada.
Plant Chairman Mike Van Boekel told Automotive News Canada that the union believes it is safe to return to work at this time, so long as precautionary measures are taken. Van Boekel says he has been at the plant in recent weeks to help prepare for the production restart and that he wouldn’t be in there,” if he did not think it was safe for him and his family.