Liberal Leader Bob Rae

January 23, 2012 by staff 

Liberal Leader Bob Rae, Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae joined about 40 workers and their supporters on the picket line Friday (Jan. 20) in front of the Electro-Motive Canada plant located on Oxford Street. Liberal leader Bob Rae joins locked out EMC workers,  Bob Rae, interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, hit the picket line in front of Electro-Motive Canada (EMC) Friday (Jan. 20) to show his support for workers in an industrial labour dispute that he said is one of the worst in recent memory.

“This is not a normal industrial dispute, it’s not even lockout,” Rae said while going around and shaking hands with about 40 locked out workers and their supporters. “This is about trying to completely change the condition people are living under.”

The Toronto Centre MP added it’s clear to him that Caterpillar, a parent company of EMC, has come up with a corporate strategy to hurt its employees.

“They (Caterpillar) may decide that this is what it’s all about- this is an elaborate dance before the company fesses up and moves production somewhere else,” Rae said. “Or it’s a way of saying we’re going to break up this union or break up the workforce and we’re going to break the back of the workforce to get them to take these kinds of concessions.”

The proof, Rae said, is the fact that Caterpillar refuses to bargain. Negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) and Caterpillar broke down after the union rejected a final offer that would slash wages and benefits of many workers by more than 50 per cent.

“Here you have a global company that is extremely profitable, that is asking for a complete shift in the standard of living,” Rae said. “You got to have movement in these things that’s what bargaining is all about.

“We’ve seen companies restructuring, we’ve seen workers that have had to take less and figured out a way to even exchange what they’re giving up for shares in the company.”

Back in March of 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the Oxford Street plant to highlight a $5 million federal tax break for buyers of the diesel locomotive-makers products and a wider $1 billion tax break on industrial capital investments. It’s because of these levies, Rae said the federal government should be getting involved in the lockout that started New Year’s Day.

“The federal government should be looking at everything. The global warfare against the standard of living of ordinary working families means we won’t have shared prosperity in this country,” he said. “The Canadian government should have something to say about that.”

What ordinary Canadians need to do is stand up for their standard of living, added Rae, and let all of Canada know what’s going on here in London.

That’s exactly what Bob Pharand plans to do Saturday, on day 21 of the lockout, during a mass rally being called the London Day of Action.

The 23-year assembly line worker at EMC plans to attend the demonstration with his wife and kids, along with an expected 10,000-plus turnout.

The Ontario Federation of Labour and CAW representatives have filled about 70 buses with supporters across Ontario to come to the rally.

“It’s going to be hard not to notice,” Pharand said, “I think 10,000 people is going to be a wake up call, but I’d like to see 20,000. The movement doesn’t just affect us, it affects everybody.”

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