GM Canada’s Oshawa production stops due to Lear strike

TORONTO (Reuters) – Production at General Motors’ Oshawa assembly plant in Canada came to a stop at about 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) on Friday, a spokesman said, after the U.S. automaker exhausted its supply of seats from Lear Corp, where workers are striking.

The General Motors assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

Over 200 workers at the feeder plant, which supplies seats for the cars and trucks assembled at Oshawa, did not work their day shift, but the next shift will start work at 2:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT), said Local 222 President Colin James.

It was unclear if the output of both trucks and cars was affected, what impact the stoppage had on daily production, or when production would resume, said GM Canada spokesman David Paterson.

The plant runs two truck shifts, but Paterson did not know if there would be adequate supplies for a second shift starting at 2:30 p.m. EST, or if that shift could be delayed until supplies arrived.

Oshawa produces about 250 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala cars daily, on one shift, and approximately 450 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado trucks daily, on two shifts.

The strike at Lear, which has 350 unionized workers, is the latest measure in a Unifor campaign aimed at convincing GM to extend Oshawa production to September 2020, when the current contract expires. Under a broad restructuring announced in November, GM said it will close Oshawa by end-2019 and has repeatedly said it will not change that decision.

The Oshawa plant operates on a just-in-time delivery system, keeping a limited supply of bulky commodities like seats on hand, said GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright.

Unifor represents 2,600 assembly-line workers at GM Oshawa and 1,800 workers at plants supplying GM’s Oshawa operations.

“The message that we’re sending is that it’s not just about General Motors’ workers. All the suppliers, including Lear Whitby, are impacted by a potential closure,” James said.

This week, GM reported a market-beating quarterly profit, lifted by high-margin trucks and cost cutting. Large pickups, like the Silverado, generate at least $17,000 per vehicle in pre-tax profit, according to GM investor disclosures.

Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Grant McCool and James Dalgleish

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