Global Unions Back Toronto Workers' Fightback Against Crown

Unite, Britain's biggest union, is backing Canadian members of the United Steelworkers (USW) who are on strike at Crown Holdings, a US owned multinational company.

Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) from Toronto were forced on strike from 6 September because the company is demanding the elimination of a cost of living allowance, the establishment of a two-tier wage system, and the continuation of an already nine-year freeze on pensions. 

USW members have drawn a line in the sand and are embarking on a global campaign to stop years of Crown building its profits on the backs of workers.  

Unite, the International Association of Machinists (US), and IndustriALL are building a global union network to stop Crown's attacks. Crown Holdings is a major global metal container company producing cans for beverage and food containers in 149 countries. The global network will be raising awareness of the dispute across other Crown sites globally through the unions' shop stewards'  groups and through the European works council. Demonstrations of support will be held, as well as days of action.  

In a letter to John Conway, CEO of Crown, union leaders, including Unite general secretary Len McCluskey expressed outrage over the treatment of the Canadian workers; 

"We are outraged at the confrontational and arrogant behaviour of Crown Holdings during recent negotiations for a new collective agreement between Crown and USW Local 9176 in Toronto, Ontario. Despite the willingness of USW members to reach a fair agreement, you have instead forced employees to make the difficult decision to  go on strike.  

"USW members at the Weston plant produce over five million cans a day and were recently recognised as one of the best plants in North America. It is disappointing to know that despite their achievements, Crown has little respect for the dedication and hard work of its employees at both the Weston plant and at other Crown facilities throughout the world. Crown’s demands threaten the well-being of current and future generations of its employees.  

"Union members in North America and across the globe fully understand your strategy is to increase profits, after doubling them in 2012, by gradually lowering wages, benefits and working conditions. We are joining together to fight against the  erosion of dignity and fairness that Crown is forcing upon its workers. We urge you to act immediately to resolve this issue before further damaging the reputation of your company and the good will of your employees."

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