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techkenyot.com March 24, 2019


‘Deeply disappointed’: Unifor president Jerry Dias reacts after GM meeting

10 January 2019, 12:09 | Hattie Nash

A sign outside Oshawa's General Motors car assembly plant is shown in Oshawa on Sept.17 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS Michelle Siu

A sign outside Oshawa's General Motors car assembly plant is shown in Oshawa on Sept.17 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Michelle Siu

GM has been in Oshawa for 109 years.

The meeting came after GM's "accelerated transformation" announcement on November 26, 2018, which would see the Oshawa plant close in 2019.

"Having completed an analysis of Unifor's proposals, GM has determined that it can not pursue them because they would not combat the declining economic and market factors that must be addressed", the company said in a letter from GM Canada president Travis Hester and labour relations vice president Gerald Johnson. "That's the only acceptable solution as we stand here today".

"I am deeply disappointed by the response from the corporation", said Dias at a press conference in Windsor, Ont.

"Workers on the morning shift at Oshawa Assembly Plant staged a sit down to protest General Motors callous choice to close down the plant after 100 years of operation, despite the fact that the company acknowledges it could maintain the plant without injury to its current bottom line", Unifor spokesperson Kathleen O'Keefe said in an email.

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"It's about corporate greed", said Dias.

A large rally has also been planned by the union for 10:30 a.m.in Windsor on Friday - scheduled to coincide with an investors' meeting GM is hosting across the river in Detroit.

"GM acknowledged the importance of the Canadian (car-buying) market".

BMO also credited the upgrade to GM's self-driving unit, Cruise, which BMO will include in its valuation of the company for the first time.

Unifor's national auto director Dino Chiodo, former president of Local 444 in Windsor, also expressed his frustration with GM executives following Tuesday's meeting. "They know Canadians are already punishing them, but the question is, will they respect that, reverse the decision or find a solution?"

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"Until they turn the lights off, it's always prudent to keep trying", Volpe said.

GM officials said they responded to Unifor proposals from December and invited the union to begin constructive discussions on transition strategies and supports for Oshawa Assembly workers who may elect to either retire or pursue new careers following their work for GM.

The release of the study comes one day after Dias met with GM officials in Detroit to make his case for extending the life of the Oshawa plant, though he came away from that meeting empty handed and told reporters that the auto manufacturer was guilty of "corporate greed" and was "picking a fight with all of Canada".

Unifor has refused to consider negotiations on a shutdown of Oshawa. One of the plants is the Detroit Hamtramck Poletown plant set to close in July.

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