Unifor ‘confident’ about saving GM jobs in Oshawa

Unifor National president Jerry Dias speaks during a press conference in Toronto on Jan. 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Unifor, the union representing General Motors workers in Oshawa, says it is hopeful that the automotive company won’t be completely abandoning the city after holding talks with GM.

“I am much more confident today than I was a month ago that, together, we will find a resolution,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias in a news release.

Officials from the union, including Dias, met with senior GM officials on Tuesday to hash out a way to save some of the 2,500 jobs that will be lost once the Oshawa assembly plant closes at the end of the year.

Although Unifor says GM has no intention of extending its manufacturing past December 2019, the union believes the company may stray away from a complete closure of its Oshawa location.

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According to Unifor, both sides will now focus on transforming operations in Oshawa for non-manufacturing purposes “to maintain a base level of hourly employment.”

When asked, Dias wouldn’t elaborate on what that transformation might look like.

“While some of our members qualify for retirement, others need ongoing, good-paying jobs to support their families. We are committed to work with GM to find solutions for both,” said Dias.

Although Dias said he doesn’t believe it will be a seamless transition, he’s optimistic that some type of resolution will come about that could save jobs during the upcoming negotiations.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Unifor also announced it will be suspending its aggressive campaign aimed at getting GM reverse the decision to close the Oshawa assembly plant.

Since the announcement of the closure in late November 2018, Unifor has been actively fighting to get the automotive giant to stay in Oshawa, a city that relies heavily on the automotive sector.

The union began constructive negotiations with GM on Feb. 25, just days after the Ontario Labour Board ruled that some of Unifor’s labour actions were unlawful.

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The talks are meant to continue over the next few weeks, and Dias said the union will be pushing to save as many jobs as possible in the region.

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