GM work­ers re­called to Oshawa as­sem­bly plant

Pro­duc­tion restart­ing as U.S. mem­bers of United Auto Work­ers union vote on new con­tract

The Peterborough Examiner - - BUSINESS - IAN BICKIS

Gen­eral Mo­tors has re­called all work­ers to its as­sem­bly plant in Oshawa, af­ter the United Auto Work­ers union in the U.S. reached a ten­ta­tive deal ear­lier this week.

GM Canada spokesper­son Jennifer Wright said the com­pany called the roughly 2,000 tem­po­rar­ily laid-off work­ers at Oshawa back Fri­day to restart pro­duc­tion.

“In Canada, we are work­ing hard to get all three GM Canada op­er­a­tions back to nor­mal op­er­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I can con­firm that we called all work­ers back at Oshawa to­day and will be re­sum­ing car pro­duc­tion,” she said by email.

Pro­duc­tion is restart­ing at the plant even though the UAW de­cided Thurs­day to keep strik­ing un­til the roughly 49,000 mem­bers vote on the deal, which is not ex­pected un­til later next week.

The strike forced GM to close Oshawa

and cut back at its St. Catharines plant be­cause of a lack of parts com­ing from the U.S., but Wright says the com­pany has enough parts and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to restart Oshawa.

Pro­duc­tion re­mains re­stricted at the St. Catharines plant, which is op­er­at­ing at only a third of ca­pac­ity, with about 730 hourly work­ers tem­po­rary laid off.

Greg Brady, pres­i­dent of Uni­for Lo­cal 199 at the St. Catharines plant, said pro­duc­tion would have al­ready been ramped back up if the U.S. union had de­cided to stop strik­ing af­ter the ten­ta­tive deal was reached.

“I re­spect their de­ci­sion to bring it to the mem­ber­ship to vote on,” Brady said.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing for our new hires, be­cause they are ob­vi­ously the ju­nior mem­bers of the plant, who are just liv­ing off EI (em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance) wages and they’re find­ing it dif­fi­cult.”

The month-long strike has also led to tem­po­rary lay­offs at nu­mer­ous com­pa­nies in On­tario that sup­ply and sup­port the GM plants.

The tem­po­rary shut­downs come ahead of GM’s plan, an­nounced last Novem­ber, to per­ma­nently end ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion in Oshawa at the end of this year.

The Oshawa plant is one of the five GM an­nounced at the time that would close.

The UAW had fought dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions to save the four U.S. plants slated for clo­sure but the ten­ta­tive deal with

GM has it sav­ing only one, which will be con­verted to build elec­tric pickup trucks.

Other terms in the ten­ta­tive deal in­clude a short­ened time­line for new hires to reach full wages, early re­tire­ment in­cen­tives, and no change to the health care plan.

Uni­for is set to ne­go­ti­ate a new col­lec­tive agree­ment with GM next year as the cur­rent agree­ment is slated to ex­pire next Septem­ber.

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