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Essex MP calls on Ottawa to protect auto jobs



by Kyle Reid

While General Motors is holding firm in the decision to close the Oshawa General Motors (GM) manufacturing plant, Essex MP Tracey Ramsey is looking to keep swinging in the fight, while also calling on Ottawa to do more to protect auto workers in Windsor-Essex and throughout Canada.

  Joined by Windsor-Tecumseh MP Cheryl Hardcastle, Windsor-West MP Brian Masse, and Tony Sisti, who is the CAW Local 1973 Retirees Chapter Chair, Ramsey called for the federal government to legislate an auto procurement policy during a rally held at the Unifor Locals 200 and 444 Hall in Windsor on Monday.

  The policy would require the federal government to only purchase Canadian-made vehicles.

  “Today the NDP are calling on Justin Trudeau and his government to stop buying GM cars that are not made by Canadian workers,” Ramsey announced at the rally.

  The crowd of some 30 auto workers, union members, and retirees at the hall met Ramsey’s cry with overwhelming applause and cheers.

  During the rally, Ramsey accused GM of prioritizing corporate greed ahead of loyalty to Canadian workers, and also decried the federal and provincial government for not doing more in the fight to save the Oshawa plant. Ramsey said lost jobs in Oshawa will be moved to Mexico, where workers will be paid about two dollars an hour.

  “This is corporate greed at its finest,” Ramsey said

  GM announced the closing of the plant in November in a decision expected to leave some 2,600 employees without jobs. Despite pushback from government officials and union leaders, GM has maintained its decision.

  But, despite the closure looking like a done-deal, Ramsey said she still isn’t willing to back down in the fight, yet.

  “We know that giving up on these jobs doesn’t just affect the 2,600 families in Oshawa, it hurts us all, and this is a fight for us all,” Ramsey said.

  During Monday’s rally, Ramsey said GM turned a profit of $6 billion during the first nine months of 2018, after receiving an $11 billion bailout from the government in 2009. Ramsey noted that the federal government has purchased $320 million worth of GM vehicles since that time, and called for the government to look elsewhere if the vehicles are not Canadian.

  “[The government] better stop that practice right now,” Ramsey said. “You better start buying GM cars that are made by Canadian workers.”

  Last Thursday, Ramsey, who is also a former auto worker, attended a special presentation of world-renowned rock star Sting’s play “The Last Ship” in Oshawa. The play, held in solidarity with the local workers, was inspired by Sting’s experience growing up in his hometown, which was dealing with a dying local manufacturing industry.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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