GM union workers call on Trudeau for support at Montreal auto show protest

MONTREAL — Unifor’s Quebec director Renaud Gagne is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow in Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s footsteps by pledging support for General Motors workers faced with a looming plant closure.

“Mr. Ford, the premier of Ontario, joined Unifor this week to say he will support our move to save Oshawa. I would like to hear the prime minister of Canada say the same thing, that he will join the efforts, that he will ask Canadians to put pressure on GM to make sure they change their minds,” Gagne said.

Some 300 Unifor members, including about 60 retirees from the now-demolished GM plant in Sainte-Therese, Que., showed their support for Oshawa GM workers on Friday, taking advantage of the Montreal Auto Show now underway.

Demonstrators were visible throughout the exhibition. Many wore blue T-shirts with the slogan, “GM to sell here, build here,” and chanted the slogan, “Say-say-say-save GM,” both in French.

The General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont., is slated to shut down at the end of 2019, resulting in an expected 2,600 job losses at the factory.

Gagne cited a union-commissioned study that forecasts that by 2025, the closure will have prompted 14,000 job losses in Ontario and 10,000 in the rest of Canada.

Gagne noted that some 10,000 people work in the auto parts sector in Quebec.

“We saved that company $10.3 billion in 2008-09. Then to thank us, they close the doors and go to Mexico to make everyone work at $2 an hour. This is unacceptable,” Gagne said, shouting.

He called on Canadians to sign an online petition, but added there is no plan to ask them to boycott the auto maker.

“We are not at this stage. But I think that if we want to go all the way, it may be a solution that we will eventually have to consider,” Gagne said.

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