CAW Statement on Layoff at the Oshawa GM Truck Plant



    TORONTO, Aug. 30 /CNW/ - CAW members at the Oshawa truck plant were
informed this morning that GM plans to eliminate one shift of production at
this facility on January 1, 2008. This will result in the loss of over 1000
direct jobs at the plant in addition to the 3,000 jobs that will be lost in
the Fall of 2008 when the car plant number 2 in Oshawa closes. This means at
least 4,000 jobs will be lost within the next year.
    This is a devastating blow to thousands of families in the Oshawa-Durham
region.
    In addition to the jobs lost at GM, several hundred other jobs will be
immediately lost in the region, as companies which supply GM (with parts,
seats, and components) also scale back employment.
    At least $100 million of annual family incomes in the region will be
lost, as a result of this decision. This in turn will destroy more jobs in
every business in the region that depends on the spending power of autoworkers
- everything from restaurants to home builders.
    This is the last thing that Canada's economy, and Ontario's economy, need
right now, given the economic and financial uncertainty which we already face.
    The CAW will start work immediately to try to ease the pain of this
layoff for our members, as much as is possible. We will attempt to negotiate
buyout incentives with GM that would allow many of the 1000 jobs to be offset
through voluntary early retirement. GM is not contractually obligated to
provide these packages, since this is a volume-related decision. But we will
press the company hard to provide these incentives.
    First and foremost, responsibility for this and other devastating
developments in Canada's auto industry lies with the federal government,
headed by Stephen Harper. Since its election in 2006, this government has done
nothing as this crucial industry, which supports hundreds of thousands of
Canadian families, melts away before our eyes.
    The auto assembly industry has lost 10,000 jobs since peaking in the late
1990s. The auto parts industry has lost 13,000 jobs since 2001. How many
plants must close, how many more jobs must be lost, before this government
finally admits there is a crisis and acts to support Canada's most important
manufacturing industry? Will auto follow steel in disappearing entirely from
Canada's industrial landscape?
    Special responsibility for this development lies with Finance Minister
Jim Flaherty. Many of those losing their jobs as a result of today's
announcement are his constituents. He is the second-most powerful figure in a
government which has a clear responsibility to advance Canada's economic and
industrial interests. Even worse than its inaction in attracting auto
investment and developing a fair trade policy, has been Flaherty's leading
role in implementing the so-called "feebate" program - which taxes larger
North American vehicles, and subsidizes smaller imports. This program has been
roundly criticized by environmentalists, auto stakeholders, and policy experts
alike for its shoddy design, political motivation, and destructive industrial
effects.
    Instead of protecting Canadian auto jobs, Flaherty has actively
participated in destroying them. Out of respect for the constituents whose
jobs have been lost today, Flaherty should resign.
    These are terrible times for the auto industry, which is Canada's most
important manufacturing sector and still our most important exporter. The CAW
has been leading the fight for a new auto policy for Canada since the crisis
began in 2002. This crisis is not inevitable: it is the result of clear,
irresponsible decisions by our policy makers regarding trade policy, exchange
rates, and industry policy. Those decisions and policies must be changed, and
that will make a huge difference to the future of this industry.
    We will step up our efforts to defend as many auto jobs as we can -
including by continuing to produce vehicles and parts with unsurpassed
quality, productivity, and competitive cost. But we can't do this alone. It
requires a realistic and active auto policy from our governments.





For further information:

For further information: Call CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, (cell)
(416) 302-1699 or Angelo DiCaro, (cell) (416) 606-6311

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