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GM issues layoff notices at Oshawa plant as strike in U.S. continues

Union members picket outside a General Motors facility in Langhorne, Pa., Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated into a strike. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

General Motors Co. (GM) has issued temporary layoff notices at its Oshawa Assembly Plant as the strike by workers in the United States continues into its third day.

GM Canada confirmed on Wednesday that about 1,300 employees that work on the truck assembly line at the Oshawa, Ont. facility have received temporary layoff notices. The plant, which finishes GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado trucks and ships 90 per cent of them to the U.S., is facing a parts shortage because of the disruptions to the company’s highly integrated supply chain.

GM’s two other manufacturing plants – the CAMI facility in Ingersoll, Ont. and St. Catharines Propulsion Plant – have so far not been affected by the strike. The Oshawa plant’s car line, which produces the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS, is also still operating as usual.

But Unifor president Jerry Dias expects that all three are vulnerable if the strike continues. He said the second line in Oshawa could be impacted as early as Thursday, while the CAMI facility could be two-thirds shut down by early next week. St. Catharines operations could be hit by the middle of next week.

Nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers members walked off the job on Monday, idling 55 factories and parts warehouses across the U.S. Negotiations between GM and the union resumed Wednesday.

The strike, the first in more than a decade, could potentially lead to thousands of job losses in the highly integrated Canadian automotive industry.

Automotive parts manufacturers have already started scheduling contingency plans because of the closures, says Flavio Volpe, the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association. He expects that companies that supply parts to the Oshawa Assembly Plant will idle in a day or two.

“We’re at the point where companies are looking at how to smooth out these potential volume interruptions,” Volpe said in an interview.

“It’s not something that’s necessarily outside of normal operating procedures, but it’s been 12 years since it’s been done because of a general strike. Even then, it was for a day.”

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