Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario

Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario

February 03, 2012 20:35 ET

Harper 'Checks Out' on Caterpillar Workers: Federal Government Abandons Salvaging Jobs at London Plant

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 3, 2012) - "Allowing Caterpillar Inc. to close its Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, killing 460 jobs, reveals the Harper government's indifference to the plight of workers in this country," said Patrick Dillon, Business Manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.

Progress Rail Services, which is owned by Caterpillar Inc. has officially closed its London plant after workers were locked out by the company for refusing to accept a 50% wage cut and for refusing to abandon their pensions. "Such concessions are totally unacceptable. Our thoughts are with the workers and their families, as well as the broader London community which has been hit hard by some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, hovering at 10 percent," observed Dillon, adding that "corporations like Caterpillar boast billions of dollars in profits which are subsidized by tax cuts, by hard-earned taxpayer-funded grants, and by government attitudes that don't require such firms to be rooted in our communities - today's closure is a case in point."

Caterpillar will move its operation to Indiana, where Right-to-Work policies drive down wages and working conditions. "It is astounding how easily the Harper government has given up on those jobs - on Canadians who expect their government to fight for them. This company never negotiated in good faith and used the lock-out as a pretext to close the plant. This sets a bad precedent for the future of Canada's labour relations, which may give rise to similar tactics by other employers, unless immediate action is taken by governments."

The closure will affect CAW workers as well as non-bargaining unit workers. "Governments at all levels and of all political stripes must re-examine their procurement policies with respect to Caterpillar Inc." said Dillon. "This company operates hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment in Canada, and yet they are getting away with undermining Canadian workers and communities. If President Obama can urge Americans to 'buy American,' why can't our Prime Minister and Premiers implement a 'buy Canadian' policy to protect jobs here and restore the dignity of the Canadian citizen? The Government of Ontario has an opportunity to show leadership where Stephen Harper hasn't."

The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario represents 150,000 construction workers in the province.

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