The premier, Doug Ford, who is visiting the international auto show in Detroit, has promised the union Uniforms to make pressure on the leaders of General Motors and they will go back on their decision to close the factory by the vehicle manufacturer in Oshawa.
The federal minister for Innovation, Navdeep Bains, is, however, walked away empty-handed from his own meeting with the big boss of GM, Mary Barra. In a statement released Monday evening, Mr. Bains said, “regret that the position of GM Oshawa has not changed”.
For his part, Doug Ford will meet with the leaders of GM on Tuesday, and the union said it is pleased on Monday that the prime minister had given him the assurance that he “would try aggressively to make them change their idea.”
GM announced in December the closure of the factory by the end of 2019, leaving about 2600 workers without a job.
The president of the union Uniforms, Jerry Dias, and the first minister Ford had first encountered on the topic of the future of the plant. But after their encounter at the auto show, Monday, they seemed to be on the same wavelength.
Mr. Dias said to have been able to explain to the prime minister that the collective agreement of the employees had a clause prohibiting closures during the duration of the work contract.
“I am delighted that the prime minister has adopted the position that this is not a done deal, because this is not the case,” said Mr. Dias. “People make bad decisions every day, and after they change their mind.”
A change of tone
The prime minister Ford said in a statement that he had a “constructive dialogue” with the union leader.
“The workers are the backbone of our economy and Ontario has the best in the world,” he said. “The creation of well-paying jobs for hard-working people of Ontario will continue to be my number one priority as I will discuss with the automotive industry in Detroit this week.”
During his meeting with the leaders of GM, Mr. Ford will also discuss the plans for the company to hire facilities in Markham and a call center that operates in Oshawa, he said.
Doug Ford has changed tone compared to a few weeks ago, when the plant closure had been announced. Mr. Ford believed that the fight of the politicians and union leaders against the closure was “playing to the gallery”.
Mr. Dias had criticised the prime minister, asking him to “shut up and pack down of the way” if he was not ready to fight for the workers.
In addition to the plant in Oshawa, GM has announced the closure of four other facilities in the United States and two other countries by the end of the year 2019 in the framework of its restructuring plan.
GM has recently announced an improvement in its budgetary forecasts for the next year, but the company has reiterated that its decision to close the plant in Oshawa was unequivocal.