It’s time to step on a Caterpillar, Premier Mcguinty

I was reading a column that Martin Reg-Cohn wrote yesterday on the continuing saga in London where as those who’ve followed it know, Caterpillar has locked out it’s workers in a draconian effort to get them to slash their wages by half – this as the CEO earns a million $ salary and the company worldwide made profits in the billions of dollars.

I agree with the column where he says it is now time for the Premier and by extension, his Labor Minister Linda Jeffery, need to do something more then just issue statements saying they are “hopeful” the 2 sides will moderate their tone. Let’s cut to the chase; Caterpillar is the one that has initiated this lock-out by negotiating in bad faith. The only one that needs to moderate their tone is them by coming back with a more reasonable offer to the table.

Caterpillar is also going to do no such moderation while it faces no external pressure to do so.  There’s a time for moderation and a time for action. If Harper isn’t going to do anything (and there’s little reason to believe he’ll step in), McGuinty should be trying to do something more then give speeches. The time for hopeful words is over, Mr Premier, and Minister Jeffery – who I’m astounded said she hadn’t considered trying to implement a Manitoba law that mandates compulsory arbitration if the 2 sides in a labour dispute drag things out for too long.  That option should have been considered yesterday, as well as other options.

UPDATE @ 6:08 pm: Caterpillar has announced record profits:

Caterpillar’s fourth-quarter sales and revenues in 2011 were an all-time quarterly record at $17.243 billion, an increase of 35% compared with $12.807 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010. Fourth-quarter profit was $1.547 billion compared with $968 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Profit of $2.32 per share was 58% higher than the $1.47 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010. This follows record third quarter profits which amounted to $1.14-billion, up 44% from a year earlier.

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An ugly looking Caterpillar.

The big news down in this area the past few days  – specifically in London – is that the big company Caterpillar decided to lock all of its employees out at its London based ElectroMotive plant. It is trying to force its employees there to take more then a 50% wage cut in salary and benefits, as well as trying to get rid of the pension plan.  You might think the company is in a bad position, but it has profits in the billions of dollars, while it gives its CEO a multi-million dollar salary. Times aren’t tough for it – it’s just decided it’s going to try to break the union and hang the threat of leaving the country and replacing the London plant with a plant in Indiana.

This is the same company and plant that Stephen Harper was touting tax breaks for three years ago, saying it was essential to keep the plant open in London.  He has so far been silent on this issue – perhaps hiding behind the holidays as an excuse. It is no different today in London – a city that has close to 10% unemployment and cant afford losing several hundred more jobs because of corporate greed. Harper and the government should speak up publicly – as a company three years removed from getting a big tax cut that Harper himself announced shouldn’t be getting away with this type of behaviour – the very stuff the Occupy Wall St. movement was born over – and remind the company it wasn’t given tax breaks only to threaten to leave three years later, if the blackmail it’s trying to attempt on its workers fails.

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