564 unionized workers at London’s EMC (Electro-Motive Canada) plant, a manufacturer of railway locomotives which was taken over by American-owned Caterpillar Inc. in 2010, were locked out of work on Sunday, January 1st. After months of contract negotiations (set to expire on January 31), the union rejected the company’s final offer which, despite record profits last year, would slash workers’ benefits and cut their wages from $35 to $16.50 an hour.
The unionized CAW works had voted by 98% to strike and have been picketing in front of the plant since the lockout. They are joined in their strike by members of the Occupy London movement as well as Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour who calls the strike a “key battleground for all Canadian unions”. Some feel that the lockout is simply part of Caterpillar’s greater plan to move production to its lower-paid Indiana plant.