About 70 GM workers – most in Oshawa – face termination over vaccination status

By

Published December 21, 2021 at 12:04 pm

About 70 unionized General Motors employees – most of them in Oshawa – were put on unpaid leave last week and face firing if they don’t get vaccinated.

The employees – representing about one per cent of the 7,000 GM autoworkers in Canada – have not complied with a December 12 deadline to be fully vaccinated.

Unifor, the union representing the workers, is on record in support of mandatory vaccines – especially with the highly contagious Omicron variant sweeping the nation – and is working with GM Canada to help the affected workers meet the requirement.

“For those who are not compliant, GM Canada is working with them individually to develop a reasonable plan to become fully vaccinated, to secure an approved exemption, or to make other employment arrangements,” GM said in a statement.

There are about 2,000 autoworkers at the CAMI plant in Woodstock and 1,100 at an engine plant in St. Catharines. Most of the rest work in Oshawa.

Automakers in the USA – including General Motors – are “strongly encouraging” workers to get vaccinated but have stopped short of imposing mandatory vaccines.

Stellantis (Fiat-Chrysler) has set a date for December 31 for its Canadian employees to be fully vaccinated while Ford Canada has extended its deadline to March 28.

Workers who don’t meet those deadlines will also be placed on unpaid leave and face termination.

GM Canada set the vaccine mandate back in October to help “protect our employees, their families, and the communities where we operate.”

The company said at the time they were joining other companies from multiple sectors to support public health initiatives to increase vaccination rates and reduce the impact of the COVID-19 virus.

“Vaccination has been shown to be effective in reducing the transmission of the virus as well as reducing the health impacts if a vaccinated person does contract the virus. Exemptions and accommodations will be rare and will be evaluated on an individual basis.”

In a letter to workers in October, GM Canada President and managing director Scott Bell said the two-month lead-up to the deadline provided “ample time” for workers to become fully vaccinated.

“If you are not yet vaccinated, it’s now time for you to do so. Thank you to everyone who has followed the COVID safety protocols at our facilities and supporting our ongoing efforts to help keep everyone safe. “

The reaction to the mandate has been mixed, with some venturing onto social media to vent over the loss of freedom, such as former GM employee Michelle, while others, such as D. Fowler, pointed out that getting vaccinated to keep your job was a choice, mandated or not:

indurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising