TORONTO—Canada’s largest private sector union, which represents 23,000 workers in the automotive industry, is calling General Motors Co.’s plan to add as many as 1,000 engineers and researchers over the next few years, “a positive step”—but it also continues to emphasize the importance of new investments in assembly operations in Oshawa, Ont. and at other Canadian auto plants
“This is an important boost to Canada’s auto industry,” Unifor’s national president Jerry Dias, said. “The creation of 1,000 engineering jobs is excellent news; however the spin-off benefits of R&D positions are far smaller than an investment in the Oshawa assembly operation, which is very much in jeopardy with no production scheduled beyond 2017.”
Unifor said if the automaker fails to put money back into the Oshawa assembly plant, approximately 30,000 manufacturing jobs could disappear. The union estimates nine spin-off industry jobs are created for each position within the assembly plant.
“Ensuring that we have the expertise to undertake next-generation research and development in Canada only strengthens the case for further investment in advanced manufacturing production here,” Dias said. “We’re hopeful that today’s announcement will help bolster the case for renewed investment in GM’s Oshawa operations and that we’ll be seeing new investment, and allocation of new vehicles, to secure the long-term future.”
GM’s Oshawa assembly has faced an increasingly uncertain future in recent years as vehicle programs have been relocated elsewhere. The automaker invested $12 million in Oshawa and its Cami Assembly late last year, but has been tight-lipped about its post-2017 plans for the plant.
Unifor plans to make investments in new Canadian programs its top priority when bargaining talks with the Big Three North American automakers commence this summer.