‘Deeply disappointed’: Unifor president Jerry Dias reacts after GM meeting
Published Tuesday, January 8, 2019 4:24PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2019 8:14AM EST
Unifor president Jerry Dias says he is ‘deeply disappointed’ after meeting with General Motors officials about the closure of the Oshawa plant.
The meeting came after GM’s ‘accelerated transformation’ announcement on Nov. 26, 2018, which would see the Oshawa plant close in 2019.
The automaker rejected the union’s proposal to keep the plant open past 2019, saving more than 2,500 jobs.
An angry Dias spoke to media in Windsor after Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s about corporate greed,” said Dias. “It’s about the lack of acknowledgement about the success that GM is enjoying today.”
Dias said the union is still not be accepting the closure of our Oshawa facilities. A large rally is planned in Windsor on Friday.
“GM has not only picked a fight with Unifor but they have picked a fight with all of Canada,” said Dias. “We are not going anywhere.”
GM officials said they responded to Unifor proposals from December and invited the union to begin constructive discussions on transition strategies and supports for Oshawa Assembly workers who may elect to either retire or pursue new careers following their work for GM.
GM detailed some of these transition supports in a letter to Unifor.
On Dec. 14, GM Canada announced millions of dollars in training support for Oshawa Assembly employees who wish to transition to new careers but may require additional training.
GM officials say they have been contacted by more than 20 large employers across Durham Region and the GTA interested in hiring GM workers for up to 5,000 positions they plan to fill over the next two years.
“Canadians are furious today and frankly so am I,” added Dias.
The options suggested by the union, including extending the life of the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS currently produced at the plant or shifting production slated for Mexico to the plant, are not economic, said David Paterson, vice president of corporate affairs at GM Canada.
Unifor has been running ads critical of the company's decision and highlighting that it accepted $11 billion in bailout funds from Canadian governments in the financial downturn. The union has also emphasized the many spin-off jobs that depend on the Oshawa plant and the wider impacts of its closure on the economy.
Unifor has now planned a protest for Friday at 11 a.m. at Windsor's Dieppe Gardens.
The union says buses are being organized from cities across Ontario to bring thousands of auto workers to protest the decision with GM’s headquarters as the backdrop.