Ontario Liberals Must Help End 17-Month Beer Can Strike

CLC President Hassan Yussuff joins prominent labour leaders calling on Wynne government to support striking Toronto workers

TORONTO, Feb. 9, 2015 /CNW/ - Prominent Canadian labour leaders are joining a growing chorus calling on Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government to help end a 17-month labour dispute at a Toronto beer can factory.

Labour leaders and provincial and federal politicians walked the picket line at Crown Metal Packaging, declaring the Wynne government can no longer ignore Toronto workers under attack by a giant American multinational.

Despite being recognized for operating their company's top factory, the Toronto workers were forced on strike in September 2013 when U.S.-based Crown demanded massive concessions. Crown has since refused to negotiate a fair settlement, hiring replacement workers while making new demands that would prevent many long-serving employees from returning to their jobs once the dispute is resolved.

Ontario's Liberal government tacitly condones the union-busting tactics of giant corporations such as Crown, said Marty Warren, Ontario Director of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents the Toronto strikers.

"If there was anti-scab legislation in Ontario, this strike would never have taken place, or would have been over much sooner," Warren said.

"By repeatedly rejecting anti-scab legislation, the Liberals are allowing corporations to use replacement workers for as long as it takes to break unions and slash our working and living standards," he said.

"What is the government of the day prepared to do? Why doesn't the Liberal government step in and help save middle-class jobs?"

The Wynne government can compel Crown to negotiate a fair settlement with its Toronto workers, said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"The provincial minister of labour has lots of tools at his disposal," Yussuff said. "He can get this company back to the table with the workers until they find a solution."

Unifor National President Jerry Dias said the Wynne government must play hardball against Crown's union-busting agenda.

If Crown refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, the premier must act, Dias said. Wynne should compel the major brewers – who own the Beer Store monopoly in Ontario – to advise Crown they will stop selling its beer cans, he said.

"I say to the Ontario government – you've got to get involved," Dias said.

Ontario NDP Labour Critic Taras Natyshak said it is unconscionable for the Liberals to ignore constituents who have been on the picket line for 17 months trying to save decent jobs.

"We will continue to table anti-scab legislation and demand that this Liberal government do what's right and support working families," Natyshak said.

"Canadians like to drink beer and we like to know that the people who make it can have a decent standard of living," he said.

Several other political and labour leaders joined today's solidarity rally, including Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchison, Toronto-Danforth NDP MPP Peter Tabuns and Toronto NDP MP Peggy Nash,Official Opposition Critic for Industry.

The striking Crown workers have launched an Ontario-wide boycott campaign calling on consumers to buy their beer in bottles and to boycott beer packaged in cans made by Crown.

www.bottlesnotcans.ca

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Marty Warren, USW District Director, 519-504-9009, mwarren@usw.ca; Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-6009, 416-434-7907, jdrexler@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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