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Closure of GM’s Oshawa plant a big blow to Canadian supply industry: Unifor, APMA

Shuttering the Oshawa plant represents a loss of about 10 per cent of Canada’s auto parts industry, said APMA head Flavio Volpe.


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November 28, 2018 by Canadian Plastics

General Motors’ decision to end production at its Oshawa, Ont. assembly plant next year is a $3 billion blow to Canada’s multimillion-dollar auto supply industry, two prominent industry spokespeople say – and could even lead to its collapse.

As reported by The Canadian Press, Jerry Dias, the head of Unifor – the union representing workers at GM’s Oshawa plant – said that the Detroit-based automaker “just showed the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada their middle finger” by moving production out of Canada and the U.S. and threatening the jobs of about 2,500 Unifor workers at the Oshawa plant.

In a press conference, Dias said GM has moved production of five models of vehicle to Mexico and the U.S. in the past few years, and if the Oshawa plant closes, the company will have only one left here. Dias blamed low labour standards in Mexico, and called on Prime Minister Trudeau to work with U.S. President Donald Trump to keep manufacturing jobs from shifting south.

And Flavio Volpe, the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), was also critical of GM’s decision. “It’s not good for the workers at the Oshawa plant and it’s not good for our members, and the people who work in their plants,” Volpe told Automotive News Canada after GM announced it had no product planned for the Oshawa plant beyond December 2019. The plant buys about $3 billion a year in auto parts and tools from Canadian suppliers, which in turn supports about 10,000 jobs, Volpe estimated. That represents about 10 per cent of Canada’s auto parts industry.

The closure of the Oshawa assembly plant is part of a larger restructuring move by GM that will cut more than 14,000 salaried staff and factory workers and close seven factories worldwide by the end of next year, as the automaker realigns to prepare for a future of electric and self-driving vehicles. Four factories in the U.S. and the Oshawa plant will be shuttered by the end of 2019 if the automaker and its unions don’t come up with an agreement to allocate more work to those facilities, GM said in a statement.