By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
With production of another vehicle ending this summer at the Oshawa Assembly, there were concerns there could be more layoffs.
However, workers need not fear – they will be needed elsewhere in the plant.
Ron Svajlenko, president of Unifor Local 222, which represents workers at the plant, says many of those workers will be shifted to another part of the plant to help meet demand for Chevrolet Equinox production, saving approximately 200 jobs.
“After the (summer) shutdown, they’re going to have an increase in the volume of the Equinox that we’ll be building. It looks to be about a wash as far as loss of our production brothers and sisters,” Svajlenko tells The Oshawa Express, adding there may be some losses, but later on in the year.
“We might see a loss in skilled trades. Not initially, but later in the year, after some project work to line up to build more Equinoxes in the plant, but at least it’s not a bad news story.”
The production of the Chevrolet Impala Limited, the older generation of the vehicle which is sold as a fleet vehicle, will cease production this summer.
According to a memo distributed to plant workers, production of the Equinox will go up to 352 vehicles daily in the summer. Currently, the plant produces 288.
Looking ahead, Svajlenko says that while this will help in the short-term, what the workers really want is long-term commitment.
“We’re still primarily focused on finding a long-term product commitment for the flex plant,” he says.
“The build of this current Equinox model is in our older consolidated plant, which isn’t as up to date on the technology and we really are focused on getting General Motors to commit for some sort of long-term product for the flex plant.”
While negotiations between Unifor Local 222 and General Motors aren’t scheduled to get under way until later this year, negotiations have gotten underway between the automaker and Unifor Local 88, which represents workers at the CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll.
According to media reports, one of the sticking points is the automaker wanting workers to stagger breaks so as to keep the line moving, as opposed to all workers taking a break at once.
The CAMI Assembly produces the frames of the Equinox, which are then sent on to Oshawa for final production.