Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

‘Deeply disappointed’: Unifor president Jerry Dias reacts after GM meeting

‘Deeply disappointed’: Unifor president Jerry Dias reacts after GM meeting

"They talked about the inevitable closures in the United States and now they're saying we'll deal with it with the UAW in collective bargaining", said Dias. "And a lack of an acknowledgement of the role of not only Canadian workers but American workers, in the success of General Motors".

Dias said the meeting further confirmed for him how GM's executives based the plant closure decisions exclusively on "corporate greed" by moving production to Mexico where he said the company's employee wages are roughly $2 per hour.

The General Motors carmaker has had a major presence in the Oshawa area for some 100 years.

David Paterson, vice-president of corporate affairs at GM Canada, says the union should instead work with the company on timing and transition plans for the approximately 3,000 workers who are losing their jobs.

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Unifor said the protest Wednesday morning lasted close to two hours before it ended and followed about a five-hour sit-down at the plant the evening before.

"Though there was an understanding of the importance of the (Canadian) market and the incredible contribution of our members in Oshawa, they weren't reaching for the solution which is at hand".

GM has claimed its restructuring plan, including the plant closures, stands to save the company US$6 billion annually.

Dias previously promised "one hell of a fight" to prevent the Oshawa plant's closure.

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It was also unclear if any work stoppages would coincide with a Unifor rally in Windsor, Ontario on Friday. Dias said Tuesday that the campaign will continue and will be "significant". "But all they look at is the bottom line of profits".

"In our history, Chrysler has never approached what GM keeps doing to us time and time again", he said.

"We know these decisions are challenging for all of us, but GM remains committed to working jointly with Unifor to facilitate and support the transition of the Oshawa Assembly workforce", the company said.

GM reviewed the proposals and met with Unifor President Jerry Dias on Tuesday where they told him they weren't going to change their mind and extend operations in Oshawa.

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Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222 in Oshawa, speaks to the media with Unifor national leader Jerry Dias on Tuesday at the Unifor Local 444/200 hall following their meeting with General Motors executives in Detroit. GM will "unallocate" production at the Oshawa factory and four others, meaning production will halt by the end of this year unless new vehicle programs are assigned to those plans.

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