All GM's vehicle assembly workers in Oshawa laid off because of U.S. strike

The strike by 49,000 United Auto Workers against General Motors in the U.S. has led to more temporary job losses at GM’s assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont.

On Friday, GM issued a statement saying vehicle production at Oshawa has stopped, though there are stamping operations in that facility that continue.

The truck assembly line in Oshawa sent home 1,200 workers on Tuesday, and another 650 on Wednesday, as the line ran out of parts.

On Friday, the line that makes Chevrolet Impalas and Cadillacs was halted, also because of a lack of parts from the U.S. 

Workers will be paid during the temporary layoffs, according to Unifor, the union for the Canadian workers. GM has scheduled the Oshawa line to close at the end of the year.

North American auto assembly is highly integrated, with plants in Canada reliant on parts coming from the U.S. and Mexico. The UAW strike in the U.S. has stopped production at more than 50 GM plants and warehouses in the U.S.

GM Canada also makes engines in St. Catharines, as well as the Chevrolet Equinox SUV in Ingersoll, Ont. 

More layoffs could come

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, said workers in St. Catharines could face layoffs within days, since about 80 per cent of the engines the plant builds are destined for cars assembled in the U.S.

At the Ingersoll assembly plant, about half the engines they put in cars come from the U.S. Dias estimates they may have to halt operations within 10 days, unless the strike is settled.

On Thursday, UAW Vice-President Terry Dittes said progress was being made in the GM talks, though many issues remain unresolved. 

Meanwhile, details are becoming clearer on GM’s offer to invest $7 billion US in U.S. facilities, an offer made on the eve of the strike that began Monday.

The UAW is concerned with GM’s plan to shut four U.S. plants and its lack of new investment in the U.S.

The new offer is to include $2 billion from joint ventures and suppliers for new plants that would pay workers less than the top union wage, a person briefed on the matter said.

Details emerge about GM offer

Those factories would not be run as typical GM plants. Although workers at those facilities would be represented by the UAW, they would be paid far less than the full UAW wage of about $30 US per hour.

On Sunday, GM made part of the offer public, saying that its investment included 5,400 jobs, the majority of them new hires. But the person briefed on the talks said only about 2,700 new jobs will be added. The rest are jobs that would be retained because of the investments.

GM said it would invest in eight facilities in four states, introduce new electric trucks, make wage or lump sum payment increases and give each worker an $8,000 bonus once the deal is ratified.

CEO Mary Barra has predicted an “all-electric future” for GM, meaning jobs making gas-powered cars could be in jeopardy.

The person said union negotiators were disappointed after the company briefed them on details Wednesday. Further details were not available.

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