Unifor is not mincing words when it comes to the importance of these talks and the future of GM Oshawa plant.

Contract talks between General Motors of Canada and the workers at the automaker's Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant have just begun, but they're already being complicated by a "chicken-and-egg" quandary.

The unionized workers are represented by Unifor Local 222, which wants GM to give a clear plan as to what, if any, product is planned for the future at Oshawa. GM, meanwhile, insists on the two sides agreeing to a contract before announcing any future product decisions.

Because of this, workers protested outside the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto this week, where the formal contract talks began.

Outside the hotel, group members chanted "What do we want? Product. Where do we want it? Oshawa." They also held up signs saying "GM moving to Mexico/China," a clear reference to the automaker's choice to open a new Cadillac plant in China, with more facilities coming to the country in the future. The company has also recently invested millions of dollars into Mexican plants.

The Oshawa plant currently builds the Chevrolet Equinox and Impala, Buick Regal, and Cadillac XTS.

Unifor is not mincing words when it comes to the importance of these talks. “These are perhaps the most important auto contract talks in a generation,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias. “There will be no deals with any of the companies without commitments from each of them for investments in Canada."

General Motors, meanwhile, is doing its best to stay both optimistic and realistic. GM of Canada's President and Managing Direct Steve Carlisle said in a statement that "it’s important for this agreement to reflect (the workforce of GM of Canada's) contribution while also ensuring we remain flexible, innovative, and internationally competitive for future investments."

The current contract between General Motors of Canada and GM Oshawa's workers expires on September 19 at 11:59 PM. Unifor says its workers are prepared to strike if a deal isn't reached by then.

Source: Inside Toronto

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