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Canadian minister meets with Barra, urges reconsideration of Oshawa plant closure

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Posted at 9:54 PM, Jan 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 08:14:59-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Canadian minister of innovation, science and economic development met with General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra Monday ahead of the North American International Auto Show, and urged her to reconsider the decision to close the Oshawa plant.

Navdeep Bains said that the conversation with Barra did not impede the closure of the Oshawa plant, but that Barra noted during the exchange GM's commitment to the company's future in Canada and its Canadian manufacturing operations in Ingersoll and St. Catharines.

"The first thing I raised was the future of Oshawa, where I urged her to reconsider the decision to close the plant," Bains said in a statement. "I regret that GM's position on Oshawa has not changed, but our government has been clear from the start: we stand ready to play an active role to find a solution for Oshawa's workers and in shaping the future of the auto industry. GM is making a mistake by giving up on Oshawa's workers, and we're not about to do the same."

Earlier in January, the Oshawa plant Unifor union workers staged a sit-down strike, halting operations for several hours in protest of the plant's closure.

In response, GM said the following:

"We understand our union’s frustration but need to now work together to deliver supports, transition and training for our employees for new opportunities over the coming year."

Bains also spoke with Unifor President Jerry Dias. He says that during that conversation he reiterated that the government is supportive of "Canada's highly-skilled auto workers."

GM's Oshawa plant closure affects 2,500 hourly and 500 total salaried employees. GM has been in Oshawa for 109 years.