Oshawa GM plant closure to cost Durham more than 5,000 jobs: union president

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GM CEO faces grilling by Congress over plant closures
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The head of the union representing thousands of workers at General Motor’s Oshawa, Ont., plant warns its upcoming closure will have a “devastating” impact on Durham Region, as it will lose more than 5,000 direct jobs, as well as about 15,000 indirect jobs.

Colin James, the president of Unifor Local 222, says his union represents many people with GM’s supplier companies, whose jobs will be affected when the plant shuts down.

“We’re in a fight for our lives,” said James. “It’s not just for the General Motors employee but it’s for all our suppliers and for the community.”

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Andrea Horwath visits GM workers in Oshawa

Companies throughout the region will suffer, says James, including Lear Corporation in Whitby, Ont., an organization he estimates will lose more than 300 jobs. Among the other places that will be affected are Martinrea in Ajax, Ont., which James says will lose 77 jobs, as well as Ceva Logistics in Oshawa.

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James’s numbers state this will be one of the hardest-hit places, with more than 370 jobs lost.

These numbers do not, he says, include the 15,000 indirect jobs that will be wiped out with the plant’s closure, which GM says will happen at the end of 2019. These include jobs at print shops and restaurants in the region.

More than 3,000 employees at General Motors — including hourly workers, engineers and security staff — will be out of work once the location shuts down, James says.

“We’ve got members… they’re not sure of what’s going to happen in the future, but we are going to fight to keep these jobs here.”

Days after last Monday’s announcement about the plant’s closure, General Motors Canada released a statement, saying it will be teaming up with its local dealers to train and hire interested Oshawa-plant workers who will be impacted to become auto-service technicians at GM dealerships.

The company also said it will work with Durham College, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, as well as the provincial and Canadian governments to train and transition these workers into new careers in the region.

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