Steel Markets

GM Strike Impacts Canadian Workers

Written by Sandy Williams

The strike by United Auto Workers at General Motors is disrupting sister operations in Canada. As Day 5 of the strike began Friday, GM Canada announced layoffs for more than 2,500 of its workers. Union leaders expect further reductions next week.

General Motors Canada laid off about 1,200 workers at the assembly plant in Oshawa on Tuesday and another 650 on Thursday. The plant is unable to get parts from U.S. plants that are used in production of GM pickup trucks. On Friday, the line that makes Chevrolet Impalas and Cadillacs was halted making the total number of layoffs more than 2,500. About 75 workers in the stamping operations still remain at work. GM previously announced that the production lines at Oshawa would be closed at the end of this year.

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, says the engine plant at St. Catherines could see layoffs as early as Monday. About 80 percent of the engines made at St. Catherines are for vehicles assembled in the United States. Dias expects about 600 workers, or two-thirds of the workforce, to be impacted.

The Ingersoll CAMI assembly plant imports about half of the engines they use from the U.S. So far, the plant will be open next week, but may be subject to a shutdown if the strike is prolonged.

Canadian workers are receiving full or partial wages during the layoffs, depending on their location.

Dias said on Friday that about 2,000 workers at GM suppliers have also been laid off because of the strike. “They’re getting clobbered,” he said.

Despite the layoffs, Dias said the Canadian union members support the strike against GM. “People are very supportive. People are furious with General Motors here in Canada, just like they are in the United States,” he told CNBC, as many feel betrayed by GM’s plant closures in both countries. 

Negotiations are continuing in the U.S. but many issues remain unsolved, said UAW-GM Vice President Terry Dittes in a letter to members on Thursday. “The process of meeting in subcommittees and main tables will continue this weekend and beyond, if a tentative agreement is not reached.”

He added, “This strike is for all the right reasons: to raise the standard of living of our members and their families and for workers across this country, to achieve true job security, our fair share of the profits, affordable health care and a path to permanent seniority for temporary members.”

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