Striking factory workers launch new campaign after 20 months

Workers warn of potential problems due to company’s past financial woes
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 07/19/2011

Employees locked out of an Etobicoke, Ontario rubber factory for a year and a half have launched a new campaign against their employer, Infinity Rubber.

Workers took to the picket lines in 2009 when Infinity offered a 25 per cent wage cut and a 50 per cent cut in benefits in contract negotiations, according to the United Steelworkers Union. The union says Infinity has since recruited replacement workers instead of trying to settle the strike.

"We believe that public pressure exerted by good and honest people can bring Infinity back to the bargaining table to reach a compromise and put its employees back to work," said USW District 6 Director Wayne Fraser.

The USW says that their new campaign includes alerting customers of potential problems with the company and warned suppliers to consider mandating payment on a cash-and-carry basis in light of a previous bankruptcy Infinity experienced.

Infinity Rubber acquired the assets of the predecessor company, Biltrite Rubber Inc., in 2009 after the company was operating under bankruptcy protection. Biltrite's assets, valued at $21.5 million, were acquired for $7.5 million, according to the USW. The former Biltrite CEO is now Infinity’s CEO.

"You would think that CEOs who take companies into bankruptcy would be booted out," said Fraser, noting that it was long-term employees who took the burden of the company’s financial woes.

The Steelworkers' campaign also will increase awareness among elected officials, neighbourhood and community groups of the company's treatment of its workers.

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