TORONTO, Feb. 29, 2012 /CNW/ - CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on
the province of Ontario to modernize its labour laws to better adapt to
the current economic reality in light of the Caterpillar lock out and
closure, in a letter sent to Ontario Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey this
The union is calling for rules around first contract interest
arbitration to be adapted and applied to other collective bargaining
disputes; giving the Ontario Labour Relations Board the power to
expedite interest arbitration in the case of a lengthy breakdown;
applying provisions of previous collective agreements in the case of a
lockout then closure; lengthening the notice period for mass
termination and increasing severance, among other changes to the
Ontario Labour Relations Act.
"Governments must now move beyond words and give serious consideration
to the role of Ontario's labour laws in this tragic situation: how they
must be improved to avert similar outcomes and strengthened to better
protect workers from the devastating effects of workplace closures,"
Lewenza said that multinational corporations are able to exploit weak
legislation to easily buy up other companies, take what they want and
close up shop at little cost and with few barriers - all to the
detriment of Ontario workers and the communities where they live.
Lewenza said that Caterpillar, who owns Electro-Motive Diesel in London,
used the province's labour laws to its advantage. "Caterpillar did not
misjudge or misinterpret Ontario's labour laws; rather, they understood
them all too well, and exploited the laws' weakness as a key part of
their overall strategy," Lewenza writes.
"In the wake of the Caterpillar tragedy, it's time that greater balance
is restored, better rules are established and stronger tools are placed
at the disposal of government to settle these types of labour
Lewenza is also calling for Minister Jeffrey to immediately establish an
Industrial Inquiry Commission to investigate the experience at
Caterpillar, a rarely used measure provided for under section 37 of the
Ontario Labour Relations Act. The commission would then make
recommendations to the minister on how to proceed in the future in
"London Electro-Motive workers, their families and the thousands of
workers whose livelihoods were dependent upon supplying the facility
will pay the price for this failure of policy for a long time to come,"
The CAW is calling for a number of changes and improvements to current
Strengthening requirements for the parties to bargain in good faith,
including improving the tools available to the Ontario Labour Relations
Board. The law pertaining to first contract interest arbitration should
be adapted and applied to collective bargaining disputes that follow a
first contract. If after 45 days following a No Board Report,
collective bargaining has reached an impasse due to the failure to make
reasonable efforts to reach a collective agreement, the board should
then be able to expedite the settlement of a collective agreement
through interest arbitration.
Creating new provisions to prevent employers from evading contract
obligations by precipitating a lock out. Provisions in the previous
collective agreement must apply, in the case of a lock out, once the
closure is announced.
Banning the use of replacement workers.
Restoring the requirement that employers negotiate adjustment plans in
mass terminations and closures - which would remove the incentive to
cause a lockout. Parties should also be provided with interest
arbitration in the negotiation of adjustment plans.
Significantly lengthening the notice period for mass termination and
providing a minimum of two weeks severance pay per year of service,
accrued from the first year of employment. The 26 week cap should also
To read the full text of the letter, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10986.htm
SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information:
please contact CAW Communications Shannon Devine (cell) 416-302-1699 or John McClyment (cell) 416-315-3202