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General Motors files application with Ontario Labour Relations Board to stop ‘illegal strikes’

Global News with Muneeza Sheikh 21 February 2019

The ongoing saga between General Motors and its Oshawa workers continues.

The auto giant has now contacted the Ontario Labour Relations Board to put a stop to what the company is calling “illegal strikes.”

Since November, when GM announced the closure of its Oshawa assembly plant, Unifor — the union representing GM workers — and the company’s local employees have been doing everything in their power to get GM to change its mind, including walking off the job.

“We can’t just stand by and let them take our jobs and destroy our community,” said Ann Hubbell, a worker at the Oshawa GM assembly plant.

Now, GM has gone to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to end those protests.

“It’s laughable. We expect this. They’re acting (as) if they’re the victims here,” said John McVey, another employee at the Oshawa plant.

When reached for comment, GM declined to give an interview, instead providing Global News with the following statement: “GM can confirm it has filed an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board seeking to stop any further illegal activities. We have no other comment.”

The company also wants compensation for the walkouts, something that labour lawyer Muneeza Sheikh says is within its rights.

“What GM can hope to get out of this is probably not much more than a declaration from the labour board saying that Unifor is engaged in unlawful behaviour, and in my experience, by the time you get to a hearing at the labour board in relation to allegations such as this, the behaviour has seized anyways,” said Sheikh, who is a senior partner at Levitt LLP.

Unifor is denying all of GM’s allegations and wants the application dismissed.

Sheikh expects both sides to come to a settlement or resolution before the complaint sees the inside of a hearing room.