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Unifor urges council to support local manufacturing

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Canada’s automotive production is at its lowest levels since the 1980s and Unifor Local 222 president Ron Svajlenko urged city council to throw its official backing behind the support of local manufacturing.

Mayor John Henry and members of council have been vocal supporters of the General Motors Assembly in Oshawa. However, Svajlenko requested council pass an official resolution to illustrate this support.

Svajlenko detailed several challenges for Canada’s auto industry in the coming years. Despite having strong sales, production is flat, he said.

“We must improve Canada’s effectiveness in investment, marketing and attraction,” he said in his presentation. “Lack of federal, provincial and municipal coordination is hurting us.”

At the Oshawa Assembly, 18,000 jobs were lost between 2001 and 2009, but 12,000 of those came back.

Earlier this year, GM announced 1,000 more jobs would be lost as a result of production of the Chevrolet Camaro being moved to Michigan.

Svajlenko also illustrated a worst-case scenario if the Oshawa Assembly were to close completely, with 33,000 jobs being lost by the second year.

More than $5 billion per year would be lost in GDP and over $1 billion a year would sink away from revenue to the provincial government.

The resolution passed unanimously among councillors present. Councillors John Neal, Nester Pidwerbecki, and Bob Chapman were absent from the meeting.