MPPs Invited to "Face Workers Who Are Suffering"

TORONTO, Dec. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) is inviting Ontario MPPs to visit a Toronto picket line to see first-hand how provincial labour law is helping to relegate young people to a permanent class of low-wage jobs.

A 14-week labour dispute at the Crown Holdings manufacturing plant in Toronto shows how Ontario labour law helps wealthy, multinational corporations create two-tier workplaces and drive down wages for young workers, the USW says in a letter to MPPs from all parties.

"Our MPPs could learn a lot by speaking directly with workers who are suffering," USW Ontario Director Marty Warren says in his letter to MPPs.

"We urge members of the Ontario legislature to visit the picket line and see what this American corporation is doing to Canadian workers, simply because it can," the letter states.

U.S.-based Crown Holdings, one of the world's largest and most-profitable manufacturers of food and beverage containers, provoked a strike by Toronto employees on Sept. 6 by demanding concessions that include a permanent lower-wage scale for new hires. The employees are members of USW Local 9176.

Crown Holdings has imported replacement workers from outside Ontario to try to break the Toronto strike and impose a two-tier wage structure and other concessions on employees.

Unlike legislation in provinces such as British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, Ontario labour law does not prohibit replacement workers nor does it have provisions to deter corporations from using their immense wealth and resources to prolong labour disputes, Warren's letter states.

"It is time for elected officials of all stripes to stand up for Ontario's working families, our youth and against the insatiable greed of these multinational corporations by correcting this gross imbalance of power," he says.

"Today corporations such as Crown are demanding cuts even when their workplaces are highly profitable, productive and efficient," Warren points out to MPPs.

"Employees at Crown's Toronto plant were given an award this year for their excellent record of productivity, safety, quality and budget management. Employee productivity allowed Crown to double its profits in 2012 - to more than $500 million. The company's chief executive officer was given a compensation package last year exceeding $12 million, or $6,000 per hour," he says.

"MPPs must consider the implications if this American multinational achieves its demands for a lower wage scale for youth and sets yet another precedent for other corporations to follow."

The USW's letter to MPPs and more information on the Crown Holdings labour dispute are available at www.usw.ca/crownholdings.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-6009, 416-434-7907, jdrexler@usw.ca
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca


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