Thousands rally to support locked-out Electro-Motive workers

Union president says it’s a national issue, London Ont. mayor blasts PM
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 01/24/2012

Thousands of people gathered at Victoria Park in London, Ont. on Jan. 21 to protest against Electro-Motive's decision to lock out its more than 400 workers.

Unionized employees at Electro-Motive, which is owned by U.S.-based Caterpillar Inc., were locked out Jan. 1 after contract talks fell apart over company demands to cut wages and benefits by more than 50 per cent, according to the union.

The dispute is the “latest assault” on manufacturing jobs, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) national president Ken Lewenza told the crowd.

“This struggle started three weeks ago, but in the last five years, 450,000 manufacturing workers in Canada were asked to go home and say to their young children they lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Lewenza said.

Labour and community leaders, as well as interim federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel and London mayor Joe Fontana addressed the crowd.

Fontana, a former federal Liberal labour minister, spoke about his frustration over the lack of federal action, saying almost his entire city council was present at the rally.

"Get your ass down here, Prime Minister Harper," Fontana said to the crowd.

Electro-Motive hasn’t commented on the rally.

Labour organizers estimated the crowd grew to 15,000, but police said the number was more like 5,000.

Employees at Electro-Motive are members of CAW Local 27.

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