TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - A decision about the future of General Motors' Oshawa operations can and should be made now, according to Unifor National President Jerry Dias. The union is responding to a statement by GM Canada released this morning suggesting that the company would wait until after 2016 contract negotiations to make a decision about Oshawa's future.
Dias said that while the union is not surprised by GM's preference to have another year and half of uncertainty, he is disappointed by the statement from GM Canada president Stephen Carlisle.
"We're going to continue to push GM to make a decision, taking into account that the Oshawa operations are highly competitive," said Dias. "We're actively engaged in discussions with GM as are the provincial and federal governments to find a solution. We believe that we will be able to find a solution and that a decision on a new product for Oshawa should and can be made now."
Unifor Local 222 President Ron Svajlenko said that the union is optimistic that GM will come to the right decision. "The decline in the Canadian dollar, combined with the fact that roughly two thirds of our members in Oshawa will soon be eligible to retire will reduce costs for GM in the coming years."
Svajlenko said that in 2012, the union negotiated a new hire grow-in period which also has the effect of reducing labour costs. Oshawa has been the site of an innovative on-site supplier park, which reduces logistical and transportation costs and allows for greater flexibility.
"We're going to continue our dialogue with GM and work toward finding suitable products for our members to build in Oshawa," said Svajlenko.
Unifor represents 3,700 workers at GM in Oshawa and thousands more in the auto parts sector in the surrounding area.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.