Unifor looks forward to fighting GM Oshawa closure with province and feds

Jerry Dias, Doug Ford and Navdeep Bains met about the future of GM's Oshawa plant on day one of NAIAS 2019.

'This is about GM having a long-term future in Oshawa,' says Navdeep Bains

Unifor National President Jerry Dias addressed the media about his meeting with the premier and federal minister of innovation, science and economic development at the Detroit auto show. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

The future of the General Motors Oshawa assembly plant is in talks again on the first day of the 2019 North American International Auto Show.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias has met with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and federal minister of innovation, science and economic development, Navdeep Bains, about GM.

"It appears as if people are starting to take a different tack," said Dias after his meetings.

He had previously criticized Ford for throwing in the towel, after Ford said there's nothing the province can do to get GM to stay.

GM's high-tech jobs

After his meeting with Ford Monday, Dias said he's quite pleased to hear the premier say "he would roll up his sleeves" and be "very aggressive" in his meetings with GM.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford used his trip to the Detroit auto show to meet with executives from GM and several other automakers Monday. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

However, that's different from what Ford told CBC News after his meeting with Dias.

"We all want them to stay here in Ontario, but the reality is they aren't going to, at least that one plant," he said.

"Jerry always looks at things negative. I look at things in a positive fashion," said Ford.

He mentioned the company's plans to  expand the new research centre in Markham, Ont., where the company hired 500 people last year.

"There's still lots of room for manufacturing here in Ontario," said Ford.

"But also, we can't ignore the high-tech side. They're all talking high-tech down here, no matter if it's GM or Toyota or Honda or Ford, Magna that we're meeting with and Chrysler."

Options on the table

Dias also met with federal minister of innovation, science and economic development Navdeep Bains, saying the minister had said the government will be reinforcing the fact that Canada will not accept the Oshawa closure.

Federal minister Navdeep Bains says he'll be meeting with GM's CEO Mary Barra to talk about GM's future in the country. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

Bains said after his meeting with Dias that "all options are on the table" for trying to get GM to stay in Oshawa.

"This is really about the workers. This is about GM having a long-term future in Oshawa," said Bains. "This is really about that community and their families as well and that's really our focal point."

Bains said he has a meeting planned with CEO of GM Mary Barra Monday afternoon to talk about not only the future of GM in Canada, but to also express his "deep disappointment" that the company has abruptly announced the plant closure back in November 2018.

For Dias, he said this is a much bigger fight than just Oshawa.

"When GM says something, let's just say that they don't stick with their word," said Dias.

Dias will be meeting with the premier again Tuesday.

With files from The Canadian Press