TORONTO, Nov. 26, 2018 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) is calling on the Canadian and Ontario governments to act decisively to defend thousands of families and their communities affected by the General Motors shutdown of its Oshawa operations.
"GM's unexpected announcement is a devastating blow to thousands of working families whose lives have been turned upside down," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.
"These families need decisive, meaningful action from their governments to defend their livelihoods and their communities," Neumann said.
The General Motors shutdown in Oshawa directly affects over 2,500 jobs and threatens thousands of additional jobs in the region and in the auto sector supply chains in Ontario and beyond, he added.
"Everything about this callous decision is unacceptable. It requires a powerful response from the federal and provincial governments to support these families and to strengthen our manufacturing sector that is so crucial to our economy," Neumann said.
GM's devastating decision to shut down its Oshawa operations comes on the heels of the corporation's report of a $2.5-billion, third-quarter profit, noted Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Canada Director.
The company, which benefited from massive subsidies from Canadian taxpayers following the 2009 economic crisis, said last fall it did not expect job losses from its strategy of expansion in the electric vehicle market, Warren said.
"GM workers in Oshawa have more than fulfilled their end of the bargain. They have made numerous sacrifices and compromises over the years. They have increased productivity and produced the highest-quality vehicles," he said.
"Liberal and Conservative governments have spent billions of taxpayers' dollars – with no meaningful job guarantees – to subsidize multinationals such as General Motors, yet these corporations continue to eliminate Canadian jobs and shift production out of the country," Warren added.
"Where does it end? When will our governments say, 'enough is enough?' "
In addition to injecting $13.7-billion of Canadian taxpayers' money into the auto sector, the federal and Ontario governments became General Motors shareholders as part of the bailout package.
However, "Liberal and Conservative governments decided to sell off their shares and give up leverage they could have used to protect Canadian jobs. Instead, they helped clear the way to GM's devastating decision to shut down the Oshawa operations," Neumann said.
The GM announcement comes in the midst of a crisis in Canadian manufacturing due to the federal Liberal government's failed trade policies, Neumann added.
"The Liberal government has been all-too-willing to negotiate bad trade deals that will harm Canadian industries and eliminate thousands of middle-class jobs. The government's failure to stand up to the Trump administration to end ludicrous U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum has complicated the challenges in the auto industry and exacerbated the overall crisis facing the manufacturing sector," he said.
"General Motors workers and thousands of other Canadians in the manufacturing sector need more than sympathy and good wishes from a government that has a hand in this crisis. They don't need a government that will throw up its hands in resignation. They need decisive action and policies that will defend their jobs and strengthen the manufacturing sector and the middle class."
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Canada Director, 416-243-8792; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, email@example.com
The USW is the largest private sector union in both Canada and North America with more than 225,000 members in Canada and more than 800,000 members continent-wide. The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing men and women working in every sector of the economy.