LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire -02/03/12)- According to the Ontario Federation of Labour, today's announcement by Caterpillar Inc. that it will close its London Electro-Motive Diesel plant two months after locking-out employees came as no surprise. Every worker should be concerned about the Harper government's failure to protect Canadian jobs and interests.
"Today is indeed a sad day for the families of the 460 workers of Electro-Motive Diesel and the thousands of others in the London community who work in spin-off industries. Job loss like this is going to continue to decimate towns across the country as long as Prime Minister Harper continues to allow corporate greed to drive incredible profits at the expense of the livelihood of Canadians," said OFL President Sid Ryan.
"It isn't really news that Caterpillar is hell bent on gutting wages and stranding Canadian workers while making record profits. Everyone could see that train coming a mile away," said Ryan. "The real question is why they were allowed to do it. What should shock every Canadian is the fact that the Harper government is allowing multi-national corporations to gobble up Canadian manufacturing, strip our innovation and technology and then ship jobs and production to low-wage states."
Electro-Motive Diesel was acquired for $820 million in 2010 by Progress Rail Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. Since then, Caterpillar built up its locomotive manufacturing capacity in Munsie, Indiana, where they have received millions of dollars in state aid and pay their workers nominal wages for skilled labour. Electro-Motive Diesel locked out members of CAW Local 27 in London on New Year's Day, after demanding dramatic concessions to wages and benefits, including a 50 percent cut that would drop wages for some workers from $35 to $16.50 an hour. While the company has attempted to blame Canadian workers and an "unsustainable cost structure" for its decision to relocate, this move comes in a year in which production was up by 20 percent and Caterpillar boasted a $4.9 billion profit, the highest in its 86-year history.
"As Prime Minister, it is Stephen Harper's role to defend Canadian jobs and our standard of living. He has a responsibility to strengthen the Investment Canada Act to require foreign corporations to demonstrate a 'net Canadian benefit' before being allowed to acquire Canadian companies. Instead, Harper has rewarded greedy corporations with publicly-funded corporate tax cuts that further enhance profits while delivering no jobs or growth to our economy," said Ryan. "Harper's message to the world is that Canada is open for business for corporate robber barons."
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.