Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Union Pickets Caterpillar Dealerships across Canada to Protest Wage Cuts: CAW Takes Campaign to Caterpillar Dealers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Union Pickets Caterpillar Dealerships across Canada to Protest Wage Cuts: CAW Takes Campaign to Caterpillar Dealers

Article excerpt

TORONTO - The Canadian Auto Workers union took its campaign against heavy equipment giant Caterpillar to a national level Thursday to protest steep wage cuts and other concessions being demanded of its members at a locomotive factory in southwestern Ontario.

The union said it set up pickets in a dozen cities across Canada to bring attention to the company lockout of nearly 500 employees at Caterpillar's Electro-Motive subsidiary in London, Ont.

A spokesman for Caterpillar, which bought Electro-Motive Diesel in 2010 for US$820 million in cash, said the company had no comment about Thursday's demonstrations.

A website set up by its locomotive subsidiary, at www.emcupdate.ca, says the company's London, Ont., plant is not cost competitive under the previous collective agreement.

"EMC competes in a global marketplace where orders for locomotives are won or lost based on extremely competitive pricing and the ability to meet short turn-around times," the website says.

The CAW's campaign, which follows several weeks of local protests and calls for political intervention, coincided with Caterpillar's announcement Thursday it had record high sales and a profit of nearly US$5 billion last year.

"At a time when inequality is rapidly growing it's vital that we take a stand with this company," CAW national president Ken Lewenza said in a statement.

"Company claims that the workforce is too expensive simply don't add up,"

"This is all about greed," says Bob Scott, union plant chair at Electro-Motive. "How are workers supposed to go back to earning wages last paid nearly 25 years ago, while the company is richer than ever?"

The 12 sites targeted on Thursday included Caterpillar-branded locations owned by Toromont Industries of Toronto (TSX:TIH), Hewitt Group of Pointe-Claire, Que., and Finning International Inc. of Vancouver (TSX:FTI) -- major Canadian heavy-equipment dealers.

On Wednesday, about 80 CAW workers in Ingersoll, Ont., blocked a locomotive that had been built in London to protest the lockout -- which Electro-Motive began on Jan. 1 after the union refused to accept its contract proposal.

The Electro-Motive website says the union hasn't addressed the competitive issues faced by the company. …

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