GM to cut 1K jobs at Oshawa plant as Camaro moves
General Motors Co. Thursday said it will cut 1,000 jobs at its Oshawa Assembly Plant in Canada and take a $200 million restructuring charge as production of the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro moves to Lansing in November.
The automaker, which made the announcement the same day it announced the creation of 650 new jobs and $5.4 billion in investments in the United States over three years, said it will offer voluntary retirement incentives to “minimize employment impacts and align to market demand.”
GM says 2,100 of Oshawa assembly’s 3,600 hourly workers are eligible for retirement incentives — $50,000 (Canadian) and a $20,000 (Canadian) car coupon. A total number of retirements will be determined by the end of 2015. GM’s Canada President Stephen Carlisle said the retirement option “affords us an opportunity to avoid layoffs.”
Camaro production will end Nov. 20 at Oshawa. The company announced plans to shift production to Lansing Grand River in late 2012.
Following the Camaro move, Oshawa will produce five vehicles and move from four to three shifts total for its flex and consolidated lines. The flex line will drop one shift as it loses Camaro production (that line also builds the Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS). The consolidated line will continue to run one shift to build the Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Impala Limited, a fleet vehicle. Camaro production now accounts for more than half of the flex line production, according to the union.
Ron Svajlenko, president of Unifor Local 222 which represents Oshawa employees, said he is optimistic but is not sure the plant will have enough volunteers to retire. He said two-thirds of the plant is eligible and he hopes they won’t have to make layoffs.
He said the union has been working with GM to secure a new vehicle for Oshawa to minimize the impact of the Camaro production shift. But so far, it has not happened.
GM has said it will not make any future vehicle decisions for Oshawa until it finishes Unifor union bargaining in 2016. Oshawa is a target for complete closure in the future, analysts say, but Svajlenko hopes to keep everybody at Oshawa working. “We’re open to any discussions with General Motors,” he said.
The automaker says it remains committed to Canada. It recently announced new investment for its CAMI facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, and this week said it will hire more than 100 engineers for its Canadian engineering center in Oshawa.
GM has not said when production of the next-generation Camaro will begin, but it’s expected later this year. Chevy will reveal the sixth generation Camaro on May 16 during an event on Belle Isle.
The Lansing Grand River plant cut one of two shifts early this year because of slow car sales. It has about 1,300 employees now and the hope is laid-off workers will be recalled when Camaro production is added.