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Ontario government opens inquiry into 18-month strike at Crown Holdings

17 March, 2015IndustriALL Global Union joins its North American affiliate, the United Steelworkers (USW), in welcoming the decision of the Ontario Government to open an inquiry into an 18-month strike over wages and conditions at Crown Holdings in Toronto.

An Industrial Inquiry Commission, a rarely used tool, will investigate the labour dispute provoked by the US-based multinational Crown Holdings back in September 2013.

Despite an incredibly lucrative year in 2012, when the company saw its profits almost double, workers were told to make further concessions over pay and benefits. Faced with intransigence from the employer, workers had no option but to go on strike.

During the past 18 months, Crown has continuously refused to negotiate a fair settlement of the dispute with USW Local 9176. Instead it has recruited replacement workers to prolong the dispute, bust the union and break the strike.

Steelworkers allies such as IndustriALL affiliate Unifor have joined the USW in calling on the Ontario government to help end the labour dispute by compelling Crown to negotiate a fair settlement.

USW Ontario Director, Marty Warren, said,

Most of the Crown strikers are long service employees who have given their working lives to build Crown into the huge and profitable company it is today. This 18-month strike has caused untold financial and personal tragedies for our members. The announcement of an industrial inquiry must lead to an end to this long and tragic refusal by Crown to deal fairly with its dedicated employees."

IndustriALL’s Director for Health, Safety and Sustainability, Brian Kohler brought solidarity greetings to the Crown picket line as the government announced its inquiry:  

This fight has an importance beyond the picket line in Toronto. Other North American employers are watching closely, if Crown succeeds there will be a flood of similar disputes all over the continent. Our joint response to Crown's shameful behaviour: global solidarity!