The Communist Party of Canada calls on the federal government to nationalize the General Motors operations in Canada under democratic control, as the only way to save the jobs of the 2,700 workers in Oshawa and the many jobs in parts plants and in the surrounding communities dependent on the income from workers in the factory.
GM announced in November that is was planning to shutter the plant at the end of December, 2019, even though it had promised in 2016, to maintain operations in the plant until the end of the collective agreement in September, 2020. It claimed that it was part of a global restructuring plan to shift its production of vehicles to electric and self-automated cars, allegedly the future of the automobile industry.
Meanwhile it was shifting its production of the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS to plants in Mexico where workers earn $4 an hour under collective agreements with compliant unions linked to the PRI political party which was just defeated in the 2018 Mexican presidential and legislative election. In January, General Motors rejected seven proposals from Unifor, the union representing GM workers in Oshawa, that would have kept the plant open with different vehicles being produced.
General Motors has never shown any interest in the future of its workers throughout its history. The company told the Ontario and federal government of its decision to shutter the plant before it informed Unifor. Nor has it shown any gratitude to the taxpayers on Ontario and Canada who loaned it $14 Billion dollars to save the company during the 2008-9 Global Recession.
This US transnational corporation is pulling up stakes because it can. Despite Unifor’s and the Canadian Labour Congress’ high-level participation in Chrystia Freeland’s advisory committee to negotiate the new NAFTA 2.0, corporate free trade agreements allow GM and any other automobile company to shift its production wherever it wants to maximize profits and exploit workers where it can.
Neither the federal or provincial government has lifted a finger to save the jobs of the affected workers. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that “the ship has already left the dock”. All the Trudeau government has offered is extra eligibility for EI benefits and retraining for other jobs in the area.
Unifor’s call for boycotts of Mexican-made car will not change GM plans and are misguided, targeting Mexican workers rather than the corporation that is taking advantage of its ability to exploit workers and divide the working class. The WTO struck down the Auto Pact, which had forced the Big three automakers to assemble the same number of vehicles in Canada that it sold.
The Communist Party demands that the federal and provincial governments intervene to nationalize GM’s operations in Canada, transform it into a crown corporation under public ownership and democratic control. A publicly owned corporation could produce a Canadian car that’s environmentally sustainable and affordable, as part of a public transportation policy that meets the needs of the Canadian public and provides good, value-added manufacturing jobs for workers. If it has the money to buy and develop a pipeline, it can spend taxpayer dollars to support the workers of Canada.
GM Canada spokesperson David Paterson tried to defend its operations in Canada by pointing out that it had invested $400 million in a research complex in Markham and hired hundreds of software engineers to develop self-driving technologies. These people could develop models for vehicles to be produced at the Oshawa and other current GM plants in Canada.
GM Canada has most recently shown their contempt for workers in Oshawa by filing an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board against job actions that it deems illegal. The Communist Party of Canada condemns the Labour Board’s decision to side with General Motors and demands GM and the Board stop threatening and intimidating workers. We stand in full solidarity with GM workers who participated in walkouts from the plant in November and January and with Inteva and Lear auto-parts workers who walked off in solidarity with workers at GM in January.
The federal government must be forced by the united action of labour and its social, political and community allies, to stop the closure of the Oshawa plant, and stop this race to the bottom facilitated by corporate migrations to the low-waged, non-union, continental south. Militant workplace actions combined with mass, united independent political action led by Unifor, its sister unions in the CLC, and its community allies can turn the tables on GM and force them back.
Further we call on the government and Parliament to renounce the USMCA agreement and refuse to ratify the deal that will cause more closures and more misery for workers in Canada, the US and Mexico.
We also call for plant closure legislation with teeth that will force corporations to show just cause before public tribunals with the power to stop closures, and jail corporate executives.
The fight for GM workers is the fight for all workers in the auto sector, including auto parts and assembly, and for all those thousands of workers in spin-off jobs whose livelihoods depend on auto plants and production in Canada.
GM’s greed and thirst for more and more profits at the expense of Canadian autoworkers and the Canadian economy demands decisive action from the federal and provincial governments to stop this corporate plunder. If it is not prepared to do this, it should step aside and let a government that will defend workers and the public interest of Canada take power.
Special resolution of the Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, February 10th, 2019