Caterpillar locks out 420 Canadian Employees

By WEEK Reporter

January 2, 2012 Updated Jan 2, 2012 at 11:11 PM CDT

 

LONDON, ONTARIO, -- In Canada, a contract dispute between the Canadian Auto Worker's Union and Caterpillar has left some 420 employees out in the cold, literally.

The company lockout of workers of Electro-Motive had driven fears the company might move their jobs out of Canada and to the United States.

CTV's Bryan Bicknell reports.

 

Wooden skids hit the flames; a frigid wind blew through the picket line outside this London manufacturing plant. More than 400 unionized workers bundled up for what could become a long and painful labor dispute.

The lock-out at electromotive diesel comes two days after the caw rejected a contract offer from U.S. equipment giant caterpillar. Union officials say the offer would cut wages in half from $35 an hour to $16.50. Pensions would be eliminated, and benefits would be cut.

As an example of some of the tensions out here on the picket line, this van has been parked outside of the main gate for the better part of the day. Inside reportedly are three replacement workers. The pickets will not allow the van to enter the property.

 

Eventually police attended. The van was allowed in five and a half hours after it arrived. An agreement was made to allow three workers for the morning shift and one at night to maintain the power-house, crucial to keeping the plant alive...

 

 

In the meantime, talks remain at a standstill. There are fears the company plans to move production to its plant in Muncie, Indiana, where employees are paid less than half that of London workers. the CAW is calling on the federal government to intervene.

To say "look-it Caterpillar, you can't come in, get a  $5-million tax break from us, Tell us you're purchasing a plant that's been around for 60 years, knowing the full collective agreement that you purchased, and then turn around and try to take this much money out of our economy.