Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) is demanding that GM retain at least one shift at its truck assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, following the report that the company wants to cease production at that facility after the third quarter of 2009.
“General Motors has an obligation to our union and its members, and to Canadians in general, to retain at least a share of its truck production in this country,” said CAW president Buzz Hargrove. He called the announcement a “devastating blow” to Canada’s staggering auto industry. “We recognize that the overall market for GM’s larger vehicles, including pickups, is enduring a painful adjustment, but that does not give this company the right to violate its recent collective agreement and turn its back on Canada entirely.”
Until January 2008, the Oshawa plant operated on three shifts of production. The third shift was laid off in January due to falling sales. In April, GM announced that it planned to lay off the second shift this fall, but that action was postponed as a result of the CAW’s recent contract talks with the company. The agreement committed GM to maintain two shifts of employment at the truck plant, working on an alternating on-off basis, until at least September 2009. It also committed GM to allocate production of its next-generation version of the pickup to the Oshawa facility, initially forecast to launch in the 2011-2012 period.
Hargrove noted that GM sold almost 100,000 pickup trucks in Canada last year. Sales this year are off 15 per cent, but are holding up better than sales in the U.S. “GM clearly sells enough pickups in Canada to justify retention of one shift of employment at this plant,” Hargrove said. He called on the provincial and federal governments to press GM to retain at least one shift of employment beyond the third quarter of 2009, until production of the new version of the truck begins.