GM Oshawa assembly plant shut down by walk-off at local supplier

The General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa Ontario Canada

The General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa Ontario Canada

Unionized workers of the Lear vehicle seat assembly plant in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, walked off the job on Friday in solidarity with their union's campaign to save a General Motors assembly plant in nearby Oshawa, Ontario.

The union says employees at the Lear Corp. operation, which supplies seats to the GM Oshawa plant, started demonstrating early Friday morning. They will not return before their 6:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m. EST (1130-1930 GMT) shift ends, said Local 222 President Colin James, but the next shift will go to work, ending the strike.

It is the latest measure in a Unifor campaign that aims to convince GM to extend production at the Oshawa plant to September 2020, when it says the current contract expires.

In November, GM announced the planned closure of five plants, the Ontario plant near Toronto and four more in the United States. The union says thousands of spin-off jobs are at risk because of the closure.

The Oshawa plant operates on a just-in-time delivery system, keeping a limited supply of bulky commodities like seats on hand, said GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright.

"We do have a bit of a bank at the plant".

Oshawa produces about 250 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala cars daily, on one shift, and approximately 450 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado trucks daily, on two shifts. A recent economic impact study shows that the closure of GM Oshawa would result in 24,000 lost jobs across the economy and a loss of $1 billion per year in government revenue.

"We demand that government act to protect these workers who stand to lose everything, and work with Unifor and GM to find a solution for the Oshawa assembly plant", Unifor president Jerry Dias said in a statement.

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