Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

March 23, 2011 15:09 ET

Ontario Federation of Labour: Closing of Brantford's ECP Factory the Disgraceful Result of Premier McGuinty's Inaction

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 23, 2011) - Nearly 100 workers learned that they will lose their jobs as a result of today's announcement by Intertape Polymer, the parent company that owns the Engineered Coated Products (ECP) plant in Brantford, that it will close the plant this June. This shameful news follows a grueling two and a half year strike, during which time the McGuinty government failed to intervene to ensure a fair settlement.

"Premier McGuinty should be ashamed of his government for letting these workers rot on the picket lines for two and a half years while busloads of replacement workers rolled past them on a daily basis," said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). "When there is a protracted labour dispute that is devastating to the livelihoods of workers and their families, the government has a responsibility to intervene. McGuinty failed in that responsibility."

The 84 members of United Steelworkers Local 1-500 have been on strike since August 23, 2008, when the employer, Intertape Polymer, demanded a 25% roll-back of wages and benefits. During the time since the strike began, the employer used replacement workers to keep the plant operational and avoid negotiating a settlement with its workers. Though prohibited in provinces like Quebec and British Columbia, the use of replacement workers during strikes and lock-outs has been permitted in Ontario since Premier Mike Harris gutted labour laws in the mid-1990s to relax employer obligations towards employees. Since taking office in 2003, Premier McGuinty has failed to reverse Harris' record and refused to intervene to save the livelihoods of these ECP employees.

"This American company used every dirty trick – they bused in scabs, trumped up false charges against the striking workers and refused to bargain fairly," said Ryan. "If Ontario had anti-scab legislation, this strike would never have gone on so long. It is a disgrace that American companies are exploiting our lax labour laws and abusing employees when they demand fair wages and benefits."

The Ontario Federation of Labour is helping to organize a rally at Noon at Queen's Park on Thursday, March 31 to support a private member's bill proposed by NDP Member of Provincial Parliament France Gélinas that would ban the use of replacement workers and help to ensure that the rights of workers are respected. The OFL represents 54 Ontario unions and over one million members.

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