CAW Save Our Severance Campaign Rallies Support For Provincial Action

March 25, 2009


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CAW Save Our Severance Campaign Rallies Support For Provincial Action
CAW Save Our Severance Campaign Rallies Support For Provincial Action
dated March 25, 2009


Toronto, Ontario
March 25, 2009

       Hundreds of employed and unemployed workers gathered on the steps of Queen's Park in Toronto to send a clear message to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, on the eve of the Ontario budget March 25. The provincial government must live up to its responsibilities to Ontario workers. Canadian Auto Workers union National President Ken Lewenza surrounded by hundreds of CAW members, affiliated union leaders and activists, called on the Ontario Liberal government to guarantee severance pay for workers who have lost their jobs.

Ken Lewenza
CAW National President

       "There isn't going to be enough jobs in the budget tomorrow to take care of all those who have lost their jobs in the province of Ontario. So I plead with Mr. McGuinty and Dwight Duncan. from the community of Windsor, where we have a 14 per cent unemployment rate, to raise in the legislative arena, as part of the budget tomorrow, that severance pay is guaranteed by the province of Ontario and the province of Ontario can go after the corporations and banks and get the money with the power of government."

       The Queen's Park rally on March 25th was the culmination of series of Save Our Severance campaign rallies. The first rally was in Mississauga March 23 in front of Ontario Labour Minister Peter Fonseca's office.

Peggy Nash
Assistant to CAW National President

       "Workers in the province of Ontario are in crisis. They didn't cause this economic crisis but they are facing this crisis in their families every day. We need action. Families are getting desperate. We are pressuring the federal government to improve EI provisions because so many working people in the province of Ontario are not qualifying. But Even the federal government brought in a Wage Earner Protection Program. The provincial government has to do the same. The time to act is now. The time to act is now and we are here to say Minister Fonseca: "we want to know what you are going to do to protect the workers of Ontario."

       The next day the CAW took its "Save Our Severance" Campaign into downtown Toronto, in front of the Labour Ministry offices. On March 25, over 500 workers, and union activists representing a broad range of unions descended on Queens Park. Bus loads of workers from bankrupt companies from Windsor to Kitchener and Toronto arrived bearing signs of the amount of severance pay owed them.

       Gerry Farnham, CAW Local 195 president, told the crowd how his members had to occupy the Aradco plant in Windsor in order to get some of the severance owing to them.

Gerry Farnham
President CAW Local 195

       "We had to get the money from a third party, yes it was an occupation. I turned around and I looked at those workers when we were inside the plant and those workers turned and said to me very clearly. "This isn't just about us. This is about all workers and we want a message sent to government to change the legislation and change it now!"

       Labour leaders and politicians also called for immediate changes to the severance protection legislation.

Andrea Horwath
Ontario NDP Leader

       "We're here to tell you that New Democrats are firmly on your side when it comes to making sure that the severance, that the back pay, that the vacation pay, that the pension of workers in this province are protected.

John Cartwright
Toronto and York Region Labour Council

       "We have to tell the Premier today, that this government here at Queen's Park has to put working people first, has to put teeth in the laws of severance, has to make sure that workers' rights come first."

Winnie Ng
co-chair Good Jobs Coalition

       "By law they are entitled to severance and termination pay. Something is really wrong when workers who are the backbone of the manufacturing sector are put on the back, are the last on the list as non-secured creditors ."

       Lewenza had a stern warning for McGuinty if he refused to pass laws to protect workers severance and vacation pay.

Ken Lewenza
CAW National President

       "You will see a militant labour movement. You will see anger like you have not seen before. And you will, you will my friend revitalize the mood that is necessary to push the progressive agenda for workers."

       The next day the budget didn't include any commitment to enact wage earners protection law. Despite that the CAW, joined by the broader labour movement, has vowed to continue the fight to Save Our Severance.

CAW Fighting Back Makes A Difference.


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