General Motors will keep their Oshawa, Ontario plant open and save 300 jobs, although many more are still being lost.
Last year, GM announced the closure of five plants across North America. One of those plants was their Oshawa Ontario Assembly Plant, which was slated for closure later in 2019. This would result in the loss of roughly 2,500 jobs and would devastate the local Oshawa economy.
The Canadian auto workers union fought hard to keep the plant open, and it now seems they have at least partially succeeded. Oshawa will remain open, but with a drastically reduced headcount.
It also won’t be making cars anymore. In what GM is calling a "Transformation Agreement,” the plan is to convert Oshawa into a "parts manufacturing and advanced vehicle testing" facility.
GM will invest $170 million CAD to turn a factory that used to make the Chevrolet Impala, Silverado, and Cadillac XTS into one that performs "stamping, related sub-assembly, and other miscellaneous activities for GM and other auto industry customers." Part of the plant will also be converted into a test track for advanced vehicle technologies.
This will keep 300 jobs in Oshawa, but the bulk of the 2,500 employees will still be out of work later this year.
Knowing that this still doesn’t look great politically, GM also sweetened the deal. For retirement-eligible employees, GM will offer “enhanced” retirement packages and GM vehicle vouchers towards a new car or truck. The company will also create a “Jobs Action Centre” where laid-off employees will be able to get retrained and hired by other employers.
“By maintaining a footprint in Oshawa, and keeping the plant intact, we save hundreds of jobs and this gives us the ability to build and create new jobs in the future,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a statement. “We are in a much better position than we were five months ago when the plant was closing.”
He still doesn’t look happy in the press photos though.