Rally moves to Vic Park
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News
The Jan. 21 rally in support of locked-out Electro-Motive Canada workers is moving from the picket line on Oxford Street, as originally planned, to Victoria Park in downtown London.
Anticipating crowds in excess of 10,000 people, organizers of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)-initiated Day of Action are concerned the turnout for the event will be too large for it to safely take place on the picket line.
The rally will start in the park at 11 a.m. with participants leaving from there and marching to London North Centre Conservative MP Susan Truppe’s office, located at 546 King St.
“We’ll ask Truppe to be more vigilante in fighting for the jobs here,” said Tim Carrie, Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) Local 27 president. “From there we’ll be inviting any of the participants to come to the picket line after the rally.”
The OFL has promised to bus thousands of public and private sector workers throughout the province to the rally to demonstrate solidarity for the EMC employees who have been locked out since Jan. 1.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was on the picket line Tuesday (Jan. 10) to lend her support to workers, telling them this is a battle that needs to be won for people across the province.
“This fight is a fight we’re going to be having time after time across Ontario if we don’t stand up,” Horwath said to about 40 workers and supporters. “What do you get in return for years and years of labour? You get slapped in the face. You get kicked to the curb.
“That is not acceptable, that is absolutely wrong and we can not let it continue to happen in the province.”
Horwath’s sentiment was welcomed with cheers, with one woman appreciating the NDP leader’s comments so much she interrupted the MPP to thank her.
In order for workers to feel secure, tax incentives like the one the federal government had been giving to Caterpillar, a parent group of EMC, since they bought the plant two years ago need to have strings attached.
“Here we have both federally the Conservatives and provincially the Liberals cutting corporate taxes,” she said. “They need to put real job guarantees in place, so that people don’t have to fight every collective agreement just for what they gained over the last collective agreement.”
Horwath added she thinks the government should step in and eliminate replacement workers from being allowed to continue production at EMC to help push Caterpillar back to negotiation table.
“They’ve locked out these guys knowing very well that there’s very little they have in bargaining power,” she said.
National Union and General Employees president James Clancy and Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren Thomas joined the picketers in the afternoon to show their support in what both men said would be a tough fight.
“The cynical side of me says ‘no they can’t (win)’,” Thomas said. “But the positive side says, ‘You know what — if we all rally, I’m hoping the plant still stays here’.”