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GM Era is over in City of Oshawa

Dear Editor,

I would like to express my profound sadness and best wishes in the future to all employees of GM Oshawa who have received the heart wrenching news of the plant closure just prior to the Christmas holidays.

The first thing that comes to my mind is, where are these almost 3,000 jobs going to? I’ve heard about the increased steel tarrifs and other cost related excuses being the cause of the closure, but I’m sure that because of these costs, General Motors is not going to surrender its share of the very lucrative world market automobile sales.

The second thing that comes to my mind is that these vehicles will have to be manufactured elsewhere, it would be doubtful if they would be made in the U.S. as they have also announced that 12,000 U.S. employees will also be laid off, so, that probably means that production will be shifted to maybe India, Mexico, or even China ? Who knows.

In the meantime, let’s get everyone worked up over this, the unions, who have had their army of 23,000 depleted by 20,000, the politicians, who are getting on the bandwaggon mingling with the protesters outside the plant for photo ops. The announcement of re-training programs for the workers, which will never really replace the well paying jobs that have been lost, and is really only a drop in the bucket for what is really needed at this very sad period for Oshawa.

Let’s get real about this. GM was booming in the 80’s, but then the cancer started to invade the industry, especially Oshawa. It was slow but steady and effective over the years, until the workforce has been diminished to its present level, just ripe for GM to pull the plug, when there are fewer voices left around to make the arguement that the plant should be saved.

My feelings are that the Oshawa plant will not be saved. It is very sad, but it is a reality, the decision has been made by the corporation and no amount of shouting or protesting is going to change or turn around the decision to close the plant, not this time my friends.

Why are we not seeing the politicians, local, provincial and federal getting together to set up meetings with other car makers, such as Toyota, Honda, and even Ford and Chrysler, who have set up plants in the province and across Canada. This would hopefully provide work for our laid off workers at these plants, who are already trained and ready to go to work on their assembly lines.

I’m disappointed in all of the tough talk from our politicians and unions, who keep repeating themselves about taking on General Motors, when they should be negotiating jobs in the automobile industry for these unfortunate workers. This could mean having to move hundreds of miles and re-locating to a new area, with a comparable job, and a return to a secure future for themselves and their families.

Tell your representitives to take the fight beyond GM. Let’s get these politicians to do what they were elected to do, look after their constituents. Maybe there’s a hero out there, who can really represent the unfortunate laid off workers and come up with a sensible work plan.

We’ve certainly had our share of past “dirty deeds” in this province, for example, back in 1959 our prime minister at that time John Diefenbaker killed the Dehavilland Avro Arrow, an aircraft that was so far ahead of its time, as even the U.S. had nothing like it. This caused the shut down of the Dehavilland plant in Malton, and thousands of workers were laid off. Then came the end of American Motors who shut down production, then recently the closure of Sears, which resulted in immediate termination of all employees with no pensions or compensation, but the fat cats at Sears all helped themselves to milions of dollars before emptying the piggy bank. There was little or no outcry about this, why?

Finally, by the time we reach 2020, & the Oshawa GM plant is slowly rotting away, and standing as a symbol of what great things Oshawa achieved over the years, there will be a number of people, who are the General Motors loyalty customers, who will make their way into the ultra modern showrooms in this city and surrounding areas, to order or take possesion of a new GM vehicle. Irrespective of where it might have been manufactured, this won’t matter to them, because they will be suffering from a complete loss of memory as to what happened here in this great automotive city, in the year 2019.  I’m sorry to think this way, but this is a fact of life.

Ed Reilly