Caterpillar begins the year by locking out over 400 workers in Ontario

Canadian locomotive maker Electro-Motive, owned by Caterpillar Inc., began the New Year by shutting out hundreds of workers at its plant in London, Ontario.

As reported by, the company and its workers were negotiating contract’s terms in late December, but talks failed last week when the company issued a final offer that would cut the wages of union members in half, eliminate pensions and remove other benefits.

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), which represents about 500 employers, qualified the lock out as “a serious attack on working people, their families and the greater community of London and the surrounding area.”

The CAW is calling on the federal government to disclose the terms and commitments made during the 2010 purchase of Electro-Motive by Caterpillar, under the Investment Canada Act.

Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan said in an interview with Global TV that Ontario's labour movement is ready to mobilize to help the CAW stop scabs from crossing picket lines at the London plant.

"Workers across the province are angry and feel betrayed by their government and they are ready to fight together to defend good jobs," he said.

Electro-Motive’s is the second major lockout in Canada to start 2012. The first one was yesterday and affected 800 employees of Rio Tinto Alcan in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Que. Their contract also expired on New Year’s Eve, and the union had turned down an offer last week.