TORONTO — Some workers at General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant will be offered retirement incentives of up to $150,000 Canadian ($111,000) as the automaker prepares to cut most jobs at the factory.

That’s according to a bulletin posted by Unifor Local 222, which represents about 2,600 hourly workers at Oshawa. The bulletin also notes production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS sedans will end there in October, later than the initial summer timeframe offered by GM Canada. Final assembly of pickups will end “on or before” Dec. 31, though the bulletin notes that GM would “provide written notice should there be any extensions.”

GM last week said it would spend $170 million Canadian ($126 million) to convert Oshawa into a plant that builds aftermarket parts for GM vehicles and stampings for the automaker and, potentially, suppliers. The company will also build a test track on the site that will allow for testing of autonomous- and advanced-vehicle technology.

So far, only 300 jobs have been identified for the plant, though Unifor notes in its bulletin that it expects “significant growth” and hopes to have 500 jobs at the plant within three years. 

Unifor Local 222 President Colin James, in a letter attached to the notice, said the union “worked to make the best from what we had.” He criticized the federal and provincial governments for not doing more to pressure GM to reverse course on plans to end vehicle assembly at Oshawa, which were detailed in November.

“I know this is a far cry from what we deserve but when you have governments, both federal and provincial alike, that seem not to care about the loss of good paying jobs it makes what is already an uphill battle even more difficult,” James wrote. “Although I am no fan of [U.S.] President Trump, he at least was able to prompt GM to have second thoughts about what it is doing.”

According to the union, filling the 300 jobs at Oshawa will be based on seniority. GM will also offer $40,000 Canadian ($29,600) retirement incentives to workers at its St. Catharines, Ontario, propulsion plant and Woodstock, Ont., parts distribution centre. The union says that will create potential “one-for-one” job openings for Oshawa members with more than five years of experience at those locations. Those who transfer will be paid $10,000 Canadian ($7,400) for relocation expenses.

‘Enhanced incentives’

Packages for workers with 30 years of service or are of retirement age are among workers eligible for an “enhanced retirement incentive,” which includes $130,000 Canadian ($96,200) for non-trades workers and $150,000 Canadian ($11,000) for skilled-trades workers. Those workers would also receive a $10,000 Canadian ($7,400) vehicle voucher.

Workers with under 30 but more than 26 years of experience can opt to enter a “Leave to Retirement Program,” which would place the worker on leave while receiving 65 per cent of their wages during that time. They would receive retirement incentives of between $55,000 Canadian ($40,700) and $95,000 Canadian ($66,600) depending upon their job and years of service, as well as a $10,000 vehicle voucher, upon reaching 30 years of seniority.

Those workers can also choose to immediately retire, with retirement packages ranging between $90,000 and $115,000, as well as a vehicle voucher.

Full-time workers with seniority who are less than 50 years old but have 10 or more years of experience and will turn 50 within three years can elect to be placed on layoff before collecting early retirement benefits at age 50. They can also elect to take a buyout of $130,000 ($150,000 for skilled-trade workers) and a $10,000 vehicle voucher.

Those with less than 10 years of seniority will be offered lump sum payments ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 depending upon their experience.

The union’s notice said senior members could apply for up to $6,000 in retraining funds, while temporary, part-time workers can receive up to $3,000. GM Canada has said it would set up a “Jobs Action Centre” to help workers find new jobs in the area and in related fields.

GM and Unifor will meet within 30 days to “develop a plan to support the transition and position the operations for future success,” according to the notice. The parties will also form a committee “assigned to focus on future business development.”

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