Canadian Manufacturing

GM working to retrain employees affected by Oshawa plant closure [UPDATED]

The automaker is working with area employers to find work for workers affected. About 2,000 jobs have been identified in Durham region


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PHOTO: General Motors, Oshawa Assembly

OSHAWA, Ont. – General Motors of Canada is working with other employers to identify jobs and targeted training programs for GM employees affected by plans to close the Oshawa Assembly plant next year, the truck and auto maker said Friday.

It says several employers have identified about 2,000 jobs that will become open in Durham region in 2019 and 2020 – many of them related to the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear power plant southeast of Oshawa.

General Motors has also identified 300 openings for auto technicians at GM dealerships in Ontario and 100 jobs that will be open at other GM facilities in Ontario.

In addition, GM estimates about half of the 3,000 unionized and salaried employees are eligible to retire under the company’s defined benefit pension plan – leaving about 1,500 who will want to transition to new occupations.

GM Canada vice-president David Paterson said the company is committed to spend “millions” to ensure its employees get the retraining they require but the exact amount will depend on what other employers provide.

“What we want to do is to assure employees that their training will be taken care of. We’ll make sure that there’s enough money to do that,” he said in an interview.

GM Canada says Durham College will also establish a confidential internet portal in the new year to help auto workers identify job openings and begin plans to take retraining courses offered by a consortium of colleges.

The city of Oshawa and surrounding areas east of Toronto were shocked last month when the highly rated Oshawa Assembly plant was included as one of five North American GM plants identified to close next year.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias has said the union would fight against the Oshawa closure.

“They are not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight,” Dias said Nov. 26.

Paterson said GM recognizes that the union has voiced “some strong opinions” but thinks it would be good for employees if they have time to plan for their future.

“We have an obligation and duty to work with our union to determine – in addition to our pensions and the income supplements our employees will get – what things we can provide,” Paterson said.

He said two of the prospective employers that came to GM after the closure announcement are Ontario Power Generation and Aecon, a construction company, working on the nuclear plant’s refurbishment.

“They have huge needs in terms of millwrights, boiler makers, electricians and a number of areas where our employees are especially suited to that type of work and have great experience,” Paterson said.

– by David Paddon in Toronto

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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