THUNDER BAY – “This is a case where our members have been locked out by corporate greed,” said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. “This is a serious attack on working people, their families and the greater community of London and the surrounding area. Caterpillar may be one of the richest corporations to ask for the deepest of cuts.”
No new dates are set to resume negotiations. Talks broke off on December 27 between the company and the union.
The issue could set the tone for labour/management agreements heading into the new year. The company has said that workers are welcome to return to work as long as they are willing to agree with the wage settlement that the company has set.
“Any employee who works for EMC after 11:59 p.m. of Dec. 31, 2011 will be deemed to have accepted the wage and benefit terms of EMC’s last offer,” according to a statement issued by Electro-Motive Canada.
The Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan has declared that”Ontario’s labour movement will mobilize to help the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) stop scabs from crossing picket lines at Electro-Motive Canada’s London plant. Workers from across Ontario will prepare to flood the picket lines at the locomotive plant if called upon by the CAW”.
“Workers across the province are angry and feel betrayed by their government and they are ready to fight together to defend good jobs,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “We are putting corporations and all levels of government on notice that 2012 will be marred by labour unrest if they continue to destroy the livelihoods of Ontario’s middle class.”
The OFL states, “Electro-Motive, a subsidiary of U.S. industrial giant Caterpillar Inc., issued a final offer to its London workers that would cut hourly wages to $16.50 from $35 while slashing pensions and benefits, even though Caterpillar has enjoyed record profits and a 20 percent boost to production over the last year. The company locked out its workers on New Year’s Day and is rumoured to be taking advantage of Ontario’s lax labour laws by bringing in scab labour to keep the plant operational while bullying the union into devastating concessions. Many fear that the company’s hidden agenda is to move production to a U.S. plant in Indiana”.
“Caterpillar has a reputation for refusing to negotiate and escalating labour disputes through the use of scabs. This kind of confrontational negotiation tactic is unnecessary and underscores the need for provincial legislation to ban the use of replacement workers during strikes and lock-outs,” said Ryan. “Scab labour destroys families, divides communities and protracts labour disputes. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has the power to de-escalate this dispute but we won’t sit by while good jobs are destroyed.”
Ryan has offered CAW President Ken Lewenza the full support of the province’s labour movement to stare down this greedy employer and pressure both levels of government to defend good Canadian jobs. The union is calling on federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis to use his powers to retroactively order a full review of Caterpillar’s acquisition of Electro-Motive. At issue is Harper’s failure to strengthen the Investment Canada Act and ensure a ‘net Canadian benefit’ by obliging foreign companies to protect Canadian jobs, quality of life and retirement security before purchasing Canadian companies.
“Harper’s corporate tax cuts are continuing to fuel record profits that companies are keeping instead of investing in new technologies and equipment that lead to job creation. If Harper is refusing to protect the interests of Canadian workers, then we’ll have to do it ourselves,” said Ryan. “In 2012, workers are going to start fighting together against greedy employers to defend the good jobs that drive our economy. We are angry, we are organized and we are at this union’s disposal. Essentially, we are just waiting for a call.”