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June 08, 2008

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Rodney Inches

The GM Oshawa truck plant closure reminds me of a similar experience of mine 25 years ago. I worked for a tobacco giant with dwindling sales in the Canadian Market. And much like the GM workers we failed to see the shift to a healthier lifestyle. People were quitting the nicotine much the same a people today are quitting the gas consumption and demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

The union says the plant is efficient and the closure makes no sense? That argument was used by the tobacco union 25 years ago in my situation. What the union should be arguing for is the chance to help GM to develop fuel efficient vehicles for the market. Not the status quo.

Kurt

GM is spreading the pain around by closing multiple plants. While I sympathize with those who will lose their jobs, it doesn't make political sense for GM to spare only Canadian plants from closure, despite their efficiency. Another major culprit is the Canadian dollar. The cost of producing cars in Canada has gone up considerably just based on the strength of the currency so no matter how productive you are, your costs relative to the major sales market in the US have gone up quite a bit. For many years, Canadian autoworkers have relied on productivity and a low dollar to attract investment and jobs. Half of that equation has been nullified.

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