General Motors says it plans to restart some production at its engine plant in St. Catharines, Ont. next week ahead of a wider restart of North American operations the week of May 18.
Unifor president Jerry Dias confirmed the news to CBC on Wednesday. He said there will be a staged repoening on Monday and roughly 300 workers, all of them volunteers, will begin working in the engine plant.
The automaker will reopen the plants under “extensive safety measures” following considerable planning, said spokesperson Jennifer Wright by email.
“Starting May 11th a portion of our HFV6 line will resume in St. Catharines and the balance of St. Catharines operations, CAMI and Oshawa Stamped Parts Operations will come back gradually in the weeks that follow.”
Dias said the safety measures include checking anyone who enters the building using heat cameras and refusing entry to anyone with a slightly elevated temperature.
While many businesses are still restricted from opening because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright said Ontario’s essential workplace designations allow certain manufacturing operations to continue, including the engine plant.
“We have worked extensively with Unifor and public health guidelines to ensure we have the safe protocols in place to protect employees as they arrive to work, while working and when they leave work,” she said.
The St. Catharines plant has about 1,224 employees, while the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., has some 2,470. The Oshawa stamping plant has about 348 employees after the company ended auto assembly there last year.
GM’s restart announcement comes a day after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it expected to have all but one of its plants in North America restarted the week of May 18.
Fiat Chrysler, which has Ontario production facilities in Brampton, Windsor and Etobicoke, noted that its joint venture plants in China have been back up and running for two months with no issues to date.
Ford said in late April that it was starting preliminary work to restart operations but did not give specific dates for when it would reopen factories.
Though Dias added that GM will make decisions at its own pace.
GM made its restart announcement while announcing first quarter results that showed net income down by 88 per cent as COVID-19 restrictions affected sales.
The company reported a profit of US$237 million in the first quarter after revenue was down six per cent to US$32.7 billion.