The Green Party of Ontario (GPO) supports the right of both employers and employees to negotiate fair and equitable employment contracts. We are deeply saddened by the actions taken by Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) to lock out its 565 workers during contract negotiations.
EMD’s parent company, Progress Rail, posted record profits in the third quarter of 2011. This is due in no small part to the hard work and skill of the labour force at the London site. Yet the company has taken an extremely hard line by pushing a 50% wage reduction and reduced benefits. Old fashioned ‘us against them’ negotiating tactics are unhelpful and short sighted.
There is speculation that Progress Rail plans to move production to a U.S. Caterpillar site in Muncie if contract negotiations do not go their way. Such a move by a company that has received millions in tax breaks would be a slap in the face to Canadian taxpayers. The EMD lock out is a blow to London’s economy, a city with almost 10% unemployment, and to the economy of Southwestern Ontario.
The GPO is calling on the McGuinty government to stand up for Ontario jobs. Although the government’s offer of a provincial mediator is a good first step, the Premier and Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey need to take a more active role in getting both sides back to the bargaining table.
The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) have a track record of working with businesses to negotiate settlements that protect the interests of workers while providing a framework for companies to be profitable. EMD should be at the table looking for win-win solutions, not bullying its employees to accept unfair wages.
The CAW had previously offered to allow its members to work under the existing contract during negotiations. The Green Party feels this is the best approach for all parties. Employees are eager to get back to work, as are the many suppliers that depend on the plant being operational.
It is vital that both parties quickly resolve this and get back to doing what they do best, producing a high quality product.
Green Party of Ontario