Market Overview

Labour Prepares to Bar Scabs from London Plant: More Militant Defence of Good Jobs Could Mean Widespread Labour Unrest in 2012


TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 2, 2012) - The Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan today 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."

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."

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. OFL President Sid Ryan is the voice of Ontario's labour movement.

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