TORONTO — Eleven years ago, General Motors Co.’s then-chairman Rick Wagoner announced plans to shut down an assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., calling it “tough medicine.” Today, however, the plant is still lurching along on life support.
The Oshawa consolidated plant, as it’s known, received a fifth lease on life last year and continues to turn out the popular Chevrolet Equinox crossover. But it appears there won’t be a sixth.
Under current plans, the Equinox won’t be produced at the consolidated plant after next year, while the neighbouring flex plant has no product slated for it beyond 2019. GM already shifted production of the Chevrolet Camaro from the flex plant to Lansing, Mich., last November, cutting 1,000 jobs.
Perhaps most worrisome, the commitments made by GM Canada as part of its 2009 government bailout, including a promise to maintain at least 16 per cent of its North American production in Canada, lapse this year.
Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors of Canada Ltd., has said repeatedly that Oshawa’s future is dependent on the outcome of labour negotiations with the company’s workers, represented by Unifor, which will get underway in mid-August. Unifor president Jerry Dias has said workers will strike if GM doesn’t allocate any new products to Oshawa.
But industry experts say Oshawa is unlikely to survive no matter what workers do, resulting in the loss of approximately 2,700 jobs plus a significant amount of spinoff employment.
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