The U.S. -based automaker has announced that, rather than shutter the Oshawa plant completely, as had been planned, it will now invest $170 million to transition the facility from manufacturing vehicles to stamping, sub-assembly and autonomous vehicle testing.
President and Managing Director, Travis Hester says 55-acres at the Oshawa plant will also be converted into a test track for autonomous vehicles. "We are in a much better position than we were five months ago when the plant was closing", said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
"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. There'll be more the year after as we continue to attract work". There will be more next year.
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Transition plans for employees include special relocation opportunities to other Ontario operations. Others will find help finding new work through a new job action centre connecting them to some 40 employers in the Toronto area.
Federal Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said the government is encouraged by the announcement. "Our government is working with GM and Unifor to support affected GM employees and their families through its Rapid Re-employment Training Service, with plans for an action centre to open in June". "We are glad this historic site will continue to be a hub for vehicle parts manufacturing, technological innovation and regional economic growth".
A spokesman for GM declined to comment before an 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) press conference at which the company and the union are expected to make an announcement about the plant.
"I think Unifor was able to tap into a sense that these are good jobs for Canadian workers and GM has, for a long time, had a lot of loyalty from Canadian consumers", he said.