On May 8, General Motors Canada and Unifor held a joint press conference and issued a statement announcing that GM will invest $170 million to save approximately 300 of the 2,600 union jobs at the Oshawa Ontario manufacturing facility, slated for closure by the end of 2019 as part of the North American restructuring announced in November 2018.
After a vigorous and high profile union campaign against the closure, an “Oshawa Transformation Agreement” has been reached, including:
- A $170 million investment by GM to convert the plant from vehicle assembly to stamping, related sub-assembly, and “other miscellaneous activities for GM and other auto industry customers.”
- Part of the Oshawa Plant property will be converted into a test track for autonomous and advanced technology vehicles, to support GM Canada’s existing Canadian Technical Centre , in particular its Oshawa and Markham campuses where the company develops software and hardware for Autonomous Vehicle Systems, Embedded Controls, Active Safety Systems and Infotainment.
- The company will also donate the three-acre Fenelon Park and the 87-acre McLaughlin Bay wildlife preserve to the City of Oshawa “for the permanent benefit of all its citizens.”
But what about the workers?
A separate Jobs Transition Backgrounder states:
- GM Canada will offer special relocations to Oshawa employees for jobs at the St. Catharines propulsion plant or the Woodstock Distribution Centre;
- GM will offer enhanced retirement packages to retirement-eligible Oshawa Assembly employees “including vouchers toward the purchase of new GM vehicles, a benefit that will support both retiring employees and GM dealerships in Durham Region and surrounding areas.”
- In June 2019, GM Canada, Unifor and the Ontario government will open a Jobs Action Centre in Oshawa, offering personalized transition counselling, a skills / jobs matching database and “other supports.” Durham College, the local community college, will support the Job Action Centre with a dedicated jobs portal and several job fairs planned for 2019.
- Durham College, Centennial College, and Trent University Durham will offer training tailored to regional and GTA-based partner employers.
- “GM Canada will offer training support for qualified Oshawa Assembly hourly employees.” (no further details stated in the public release).
Unifor Local 222 , which represents the workers at the Oshawa plant, have called a meeting on May 9 to inform the membership about the resolution of their grievance against the company, which sought to increase incentives and severance packages.
In better news for Ontario’s auto industry: Starting in 2022, Toyota will begin to produce the luxury Lexus NX at its Cambridge plant, in both gasoline and hybrid versions . ( Cambridge currently produces of the mid-size luxury Lexus RX and RX hybrid). According to a report in the Hamilton Spectator : “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Ontario Premier Christine Elliott, and a host of local mayors and dignitaries were at the Fountain Street facility Monday afternoon to announce the plant had secured the right to make the company’s Lexus NX gas and hybrid compact SUVs starting in 2022. The news came almost a year after the federal government partnered with the province — at the time led by Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals — to each invest $110 million in the company as part of an overall investment of $1.4 billion by Toyota.”