May 9, 2019 6:50 pm
Updated: May 9, 2019 8:30 pm

GM employees unsure of new vision for automotive plant in Oshawa

Hundreds of employees are still upset with the ultimate closure of vehicle production at their facility. Although this week it was learned 300 jobs would be saved, they say it's nothing compared to the 2,300 that will be lost. Frazer Snowdon reports.

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Following General Motors’ announcement of a $170-million investment and keeping 300 jobs in the city of Oshawa, there are mixed reactions from employees who met with their union on Thursday.

“It is what it is,” said Frank Pedro, who has worked for the company for nearly 25 years. “General Motors embarked into a different policy and there isn’t much we can do about it.”

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General Motors shook the city of Oshawa when they announced last year they were shutting down operations of the vehicle production plant in late 2019. Thousands of jobs were on the chopping block as a result. Now, with GM’s announcement this week to keep some jobs and the automotive industry alive in the area, some employees are saying it’s just not good enough.

“It seems pretty cheap for breaking a contract, moving a whole plant,” said Zach Beenen. He was one of several workers that were invited by the union to a meeting to find out what the big investment would mean to them.

READ MORE: Unifor ‘confident’ about saving GM jobs in Oshawa

The news of new opportunities at the GM plant comes after months of back and forth between Unifor’s president, Jerry Dias, and GM Canada’s president, Travis Hester. At one point, Dias came out calling for a boycott of GM cars. Now, months later, after tempers have cooled, Hester told a press conference Wednesday, there are big plans.

“GM plans to be one of Oshawa’s leading companies and employers for many decades to come,” Hester said.

WATCH: Oshawa GM plant to remain open, but smaller. Sean O’Shea reports.

General Motors still plans to cease production later this year but will convert the plant to a part-stamping operation and an autonomous vehicle testing track, maintaining 300 jobs and perhaps bringing more in the future. Workers who attended the meeting in Whitby believe the union did what they could.

Dan Carter, the mayor of Oshawa, has been working with GM for months and is positive about where they can go from here.

WATCH: Dan Carter sits down with Global Durham

“I think this announcement said, ‘OK, we understand what we can’t do, but let’s do what we can do,'” Carter said. “The question is, how does the city of Oshawa play our part?”

The new jobs will be given to those with the most seniority if they don’t choose a severance package. The company will also offer re-training, a chance to relocate to other facilities or enhanced retirement packages for some.

Darryl Gee, who is opting for enhanced retirement, says he just hopes this renewed vision of GM leads to new jobs for his colleagues.

“I’m happy I’m leaving, but you know you have to worry about the junior people and hope they get more jobs for them.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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