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‘Everyone wanted to work here’: GM retirees crushed following Oshawa plant closure

Click to play video 'Last shift wraps at Oshawa GM plant, line shuts down' Last shift wraps at Oshawa GM plant, line shuts down
WATCH ABOVE: Last shift wraps at Oshawa GM plant, line shuts down

It’s the end of an era as General Motors prepares to shutter its Oshawa assembly plant Wednesday.

After more than 100 years in the Motor City, it’s a day those who dedicated their lives to the plant, never thought they would see.

“If you got a job in there you were done, you’ve got it made and most people thought that about GM,” explained Bernie Jones, a maintenance worker of nearly 30 years before retiring six years ago.

“It was great. Management was fair. It was a good place to work but as things started to tighten up, it became more difficult.”

READ MORE: General Motors winding down vehicle production at Oshawa assembly plant

GM announced in November 2018 it would wind down production at the plant, which has been in operation since 1954. The last of the pick-up trucks rolled off the line Wednesday, as some 2,600 workers walked off the job for the last time.

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About 300 jobs are being saved through a $170-million investment by GM to turn part of the operation into a parts plant

Click to play video 'End of an era in Oshawa as GM plant winds down production' End of an era in Oshawa as GM plant winds down production
End of an era in Oshawa as GM plant winds down production
“The younger generation that’s in there now, they’re raising families. Some of them have bought houses and have young kids. Some are both working in there, husband and wife [and] they’re going to struggle,” said Greg Woods, a retired tradesman who put 31 years in. Four generations of his family worked for GM.
Click to play video 'GM workers watch final truck roll off the line' GM workers watch final truck roll off the line
GM workers watch final truck roll off the line

“They had a good apprenticeship because every three months they’d move you to a different area and it was like working for a different company, all the machinery changed, paint shops, body shops — wherever you went.”

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Click to play video 'GM Canada VP looks ahead to future of company in Oshawa' GM Canada VP looks ahead to future of company in Oshawa
GM Canada VP looks ahead to future of company in Oshawa

READ MORE: General Motors winding down vehicle production at Oshawa assembly plant

The retirees consider themselves lucky — they got out when the going was good, before government bailouts and financial insecurity.

“He’s not too happy about it obviously, but you just have to roll with the flow,” added Jones, whose 36-year-old son works at the plant.

“He’s got to start all over again.”

During what the boys refer to as “the glory days” back in the 80s, more than 23 thousand people worked at the facility, producing more than 720 thousand cars and trucks a year.

“It was like working for family, the people were so nice, even the management,” said Keith Watson, who worked at the Oshawa plant for 30 years. His daughter used to work there during the summer before becoming a nurse.

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READ MORE: Timeline: GM Canada’s rise, fall, bailout and eventual departure from Oshawa

“I never didn’t enjoy coming into work. I always enjoyed coming into work.”

GM has been working to help employees find other new jobs. About 1,200 of the employees qualify for full retirement packages.

Click to play video 'GM prepares to shutter Oshawa plant after more than 100 years in the ‘Motor City’' GM prepares to shutter Oshawa plant after more than 100 years in the ‘Motor City’
GM prepares to shutter Oshawa plant after more than 100 years in the ‘Motor City’