CAW Outraged at Closure Announcement at Electro-Motive in London

February 3, 2012, 11:30 AM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza is expressing his anger and frustration at what is he calling the "callous move" by Caterpillar to suddenly close its London Electro-Motive Diesel plant, announced this morning. 

Sadly, the closure doesn't come as a total surprise to the union.

"Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open," said Lewenza.  "From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible," said Lewenza. "Our members would have happily continued working under the previous conditions, but that wasn't enough for this incredibly profitable company."

Caterpillar locked out approximately 465 workers on January 1, after tabling a final offer that would cut wages and benefits in half. Last week, Caterpillar announced $4.9 billion in annual profits, the highest in its 86 year history.

Lewenza also pointed the finger at government inaction in allowing the closure. He said that 465 workers and another 1,700 workers employed in spin-off jobs are now the casualties of an outdated and dysfunctional Investment Canada Act, that attaches no commitment to Canadian jobs to corporate take-overs.

"The Stephen Harper government is entirely in the pocket of the corporate elite and has shown absolute disregard for Canadian workers and their families," said Lewenza. "I am disgusted at this government and its indifference towards the suffering of workers and the unemployed.  The Harper government was elected by Canadians, but only seems able to represent multi-national corporations."

"Even though we predicted that the plant could close, it's devastating when it actually happens," said CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie. "This is truly rotten behaviour.  Now we're going to do everything that we can for our members."

CAW Electro-Motive chairperson Bob Scott said that members learned this morning that the plant would close - the company gave the union absolutely no advance notice. "Imagine the shock that our members felt at hearing about losing their job, on the radio," said Scott. "It's unbelievable that Caterpillar would string our members along and lock them out in the cold for six weeks, when it had no intention of reopening the plant," said Scott. "This is absolutely sickening behaviour on the part of this corporation." 

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