The labour movement will stand with Oshawa GM workers, says OFL President Chris Buckley

November 26, 2018

On November 25, it was reported that the GM plant in Oshawa is facing closure. This morning, after confirmation that there is no vehicle scheduled for production at the plant after 2019, GM workers walked off the job in advance of the company’s announcement.

Workers know that although the employer holds the balance of power, GM cannot make its profits without the important labour of the people who toil on the production lines.

GM is counting on selling the trucks that are produced in Oshawa. Workers have stopped their production of those award-winning vehicles to remind GM that it must respect the commitments that were made in collective bargaining.

I call on all unions across Ontario to offer solidarity and support to the workers at GM Oshawa. They are in the fight of their lives. GM workers are looking down the line at a province that provides poor job prospects due to outdated labour and employment laws, and a holiday season where they and their families will face financial hardship because of plant closures.

Premier Doug Ford is not taking this crisis for Ontario workers seriously. When asked about the Oshawa plant closure and what he would do to protect jobs, Ford responded he’s been told by GM ‘that ship has left the dock.’ This is the last thing Oshawa workers need, a Premier who will not use all the tools of government to help them. Workers in Durham Region need all levels of government pulling for them.

For years, working people have urged governments to take the needed steps to ensure a strong manufacturing base can flourish in Ontario. This includes negotiating fair trade deals and ensuring the economy is poised to transition and grow with the inclusion of green technologies.

Doug Ford is abandoning the people of Oshawa, we expect more from him.  He has cancelled the cap and trade program, which was expected to invest millions into research and development. He has resisted green energy initiatives, which would keep the Ontario economy at the cutting edge. Clearly, these decisions do not make Ontario ‘Open for Business’.

It is not only autoworkers in Oshawa that will be affected by this plant closure. For every job at the plant, nine more jobs are created in related businesses right here in Ontario. GM’s action today has the potential to affect more than 30,000 jobs in this province.

The GM plant in Oshawa is the backbone of the community. When a company comes into a community, uses public funds to build its business, then leaves its workers out in the cold, it is time for workers to come together shoulder to shoulder and defend their rights.

I represented autoworkers for 27 years, and I can tell you that these hardworking people have done everything in their power to keep that plant going, including making concession after concession in many rounds of bargaining. This plant closure is a slap in the face to every worker in Ontario.

The labour movement will not rest until the company makes good on the promises it made to its workers.

Together we are stronger. Together we fight for change. Together we can win against corporate greed.

In Solidarity,

Chris Buckley
Ontario Federation of Labour