By Ryan Kelly
What we have witnessed over the past month in London, Ontario is largely unprecedented and very troubling. After announcing record profits, Caterpillar locked out employees on New Year’s Day. The reason an agreement with this corporation could not be reached is simple; workers were unwilling to accept a decrease in wages of over 50 per cent in some cases, along with unpalatable cuts to pensions and benefits. After receiving five million dollars in tax breaks from the federal government, and locking out employees for a month, Caterpillar has relocated their operations from London to Indiana, a state which has recently passed “right to work” legislation.
My purpose is not to point fingers, or explore in minute detail the reasons why each side has reacted to this situation as they have. Instead, I want to delve into what we can do now. What are the next steps for everyone involved? Sadly, the 450 or more London workers have been left in a precarious position; they will need to face limited choices in a declining manufacturing sector, while the question of severance pay has yet to be settled. This will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on the lives of many involved. Can we pay our mortgages, contribute to our children’s educations, or continue to put food on the table? These are questions most of us never want to have to ask. Continue reading