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Derailed: Caterpillar shutters Electro-Motive’s London plant

Transportation giant puts 420 out of work, closing Canada's last locomotive manufacturing facility


February 3, 2012
by CanadianManufacturing.com Staff

LONDON—In a move that may or may not come as a surprise, Progress Rail Services Corp., the parent company of Electro-Motive Canada (EMC), has shuttered Electro-Motive’s London plant.

The decision comes after a month’s long lock out of 420 workers at Canada’s last locomotive manufacturing facility after employees rejected a proposed labour agreement that would cut wages and benefits in half.

The agreement would have cut wages from $35 to $18.50 to mirror wages earned by the company’s employees at its facility in Larange, Ill.

It is expected the company will move its London operations to its facility in Illinois.

CAW President Ken Lewenza says the closure is a “callous move” by Caterpillar.

But, the union says the closure doesn’t come as a total surprise.

“Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open,” says Lewenza. “From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible.”

“Our members would have happily continued working under the previous conditions, but that wasn’t enough for this incredibly profitable company.”

Lewenza has also pointed the finger at government inaction in allowing the closure.

He says the 465 workers and another 1,700 workers employed in spin-off jobs are now the casualties of an outdated and dysfunctional Investment Canada Act that attaches no commitment to Canadian jobs to corporate take-overs.

“The Stephen Harper government is entirely in the pocket of the corporate elite and has shown absolute disregard for Canadian workers and their families,” he says.