CAMI plant in Ingersoll to resume production later this month

The GM plant in Ingersoll will reopen later this month but the plant will look very different than it did before COVID-19 forced a shutdown.

The plant will start phased in production on May 19

Production at General Motors CAMI Automotive facility in Ingersoll, Ontario. (Dave Chidley/The Canadian Press)

General Motors is set to restart production at its plant in Ingersoll on May 19. 

About 2,500 workers were sent home in March due to the coronavirus threat.

"We are trying to make the plant as safe as possible," said Mike Van Boekel, the Unifor union head at the plant. 

Workers at the CAMI plant build the popular Chevy Equinox.

"GM is targeting to restart the majority of manufacturing operations the week of May 18 in the U.S. and Canada under extensive safety measures," said Jennifer Wright, communications director for General Motors Canada in an emailed statement.

Those safety measures include staff having their temperature taken when they arrive for work, as well as after their shift is over. The workers will have to stay two metres away from others and will have to wear masks and goggles supplied by the company at all times.

"When we go to the bank or to the grocery store, we see some people wearing masks and others not wearing masks. That will not be the case here. You will have to keep your mask and goggles on at all times," Van Boekel said in a video to production staff posted on the union website. 

((Dave Chidley/Canadian Press))

"The last thing we want is for the plant to be shut down because of a major outbreak." 

When the company and union agree on a re-start date, the first week will include a skeleton staff. The second week will ramp up with a full production shift, and in week three, two full shifts. There will be an hour between each shift to limit staff interaction, Van Boekel told workers. 

Usually, workers rotate between jobs at the plant, but that will likely be limited, he said. The company and union are still working on how to make sure work stations are disinfected between workers. 

GM will also be modifying the ventilation in the Ingersoll plant, going to a 100 per cent fresh-intake system. In the past, three-quarters of the air in the plant was recirculated, Van Boekel said. 

The size of the break areas will be increased and will be more spread out, he added. Usually, break areas are cleaned once every 24 hours. That will now happen every shift.