Windsor unions heading to Electro Motive lockout

Union members in the Windsor-Essex region are planning a bus trip to London later this month in a show of support for the locked-out Electro Motive Diesel employees.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath joins picket line, speaks out

Union members in Windsor-Essex are planning a bus trip to London later this month in a show of support for locked-out Electro Motive Diesel employees.

They're answering a call from the Windsor and District Labour Council to join a rally on the picket line.

The day of action against Caterpillar, which owns the locomotive plant, is expected to be massive and draw union members from across Ontario.

Caterpillar is demanding its unionized employees, represented by the CAW, accept a pay cut of more than 50 per cent as part of a new collective bargaining agreement. The company also wants to implement reductions to benefits and pensions.

Chris Taylor, vice president of the local labour council, worries other Canadian employees could be faced with similar demands.

"When you have a corporation the likes of Caterpillar that can come into our country, buy up our businesses, making billions of dollars and then turn around and demand that workers settle for half of their wages, half of their benefits, half of pensions, that's not something that we can stand for," Taylor said.

So far, there are plans for five buses to head from Windsor to the rally on Jan. 21.

The 425 employees in London have been locked out since New Year's Day.

"This is about taking on unions and taking on labour," Taylor said. "It's a fight that we're absolutely up for, and we're not going to back down from."

Company received government grant

Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath joined the picket lines Tuesday, and criticized both the federal and provincial governments. She said they're not doing enough to protect workers or their jobs.

"It shouldn't be a matter of helping these companies out ... through across-the-board tax cuts and then watching them one after the other shut their doors and walk away," Horwarth said.

The company made use of a $5-million tax incentive program a few years ago.

But, Peter White, of London's Economic Development Corporation, says that money likely saved jobs.

"They kept production here in London and kept the plant up and running when we may have been faced with ... a shutdown of the plant for a period of time," he said.