GM reveals closure of Oshawa assembly plant

The Canadian Press
Armina Ligaya

TORONTO–General Motors will close its production plant in Oshawa, Ont., along with four facilities in the U.S., as part of a global reorganization that will see the company focus on electric and autonomous vehicle programs.
The auto manufacturer announced the closures as part of a sweeping strategy to transform its product line and manufacturing process in order to meet changing demand in the transportation industry–a plan that it says will save the company $6 billion (U.S.) by the year 2020.
“This industry is changing very rapidly when you look at all of the transformative technologies, be it propulsion, autonomous driving. . .,” GM chief executive and chairman Mary Barra told reporters earlier today.
“These are things we’re doing to strengthen the core business,” she stressed.
“We think it’s appropriate to do it at a time, and get in front of it, while the company is strong and while the economy is strong.”
GM also said it will reduce salaried and salaried contract staff by 15 percent, which includes 25 percent fewer executives.
The $6 billion in savings includes cost reductions of $4.5 billion (U.S.) and lower capital expenditure annually of almost $1.5 billion (U.S.), GM said.
This morning, dozens of workers were seen walking out of the Oshawa Assembly Plant, with some saying they were very unhappy with news of the planned closure.
Unifor, the union representing more than 2,500 workers at the plant, said it has been told that there is no product allocated to the Oshawa plant past December, 2019.
Unifor Local 222 shop chairman Greg Moffatt said today the plant is not closing “without the fight of our lives.”
The Oshawa Assembly Plant employs 2,522 workers with Unifor Local 222, according to GM’s website.
Production began on Nov. 7, 1953 and in the 1980s, the plant employed roughly 23,000 people.
GM also is closing the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Detroit and the Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio in 2019.
GM propulsion plants in White Marsh, Md. and Warren, Mich. also will be shut.
On top of the previously-announced closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, GM also will cease the operations of two additional plants outside North America by the end of next year.
Meanwhile, GM will be investing heavily in autonomous and electric vehicle technology, said Barra.
But the raft of changes announced today will not impact GM’s new full-size trucks and SUVs, which are “doing very well in the marketplace,” Barra told reporters.
The Oshawa plant, however, has been producing an older model, she noted.