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Conditions not so Sterling at Ontario truck plant

ST. THOMAS, Ont. -- More than 2,000 workers at the Sterling Truck assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ont., walked off th...

ST. THOMAS, Ont. — More than 2,000 workers at the Sterling Truck assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ont., walked off the job on March 10 as negotiations with the company broke down.

The members of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 1001 began a legal strike as the clock struck midnight, due to unresolved issues regarding wages, time off the job, pensions and benefits. The union is also seeking job-security language in the proposed contract ensuring the production of vehicles in the future.

“There was a lot of hard work done by the bargaining committee to bring a reasonable, responsible proposal to the table but the company refused to match the needs of our members,” commented Richard Laverty, chair of the CAW bargaining committee. “Our members have worked inordinate amounts of overtime to meet unprecedented levels of production. The company has refused to recognize their hard work.”

The Ontario plant produces Sterling’s HX heavy-duty truck and Acterra medium-duty truck, during its three-shift rotation. Sales of Sterling trucks have increased substantially during the past three years and production levels at the St. Thomas plant reflect those numbers.

In 2003, the plant rolled out 78 units per day. Current production levels are up to 114 units per day, which the union says is a utilization rate of 110 per cent.

The situation on the picket line has been tense. Just hours into the strike, the tires were slashed on three St. Thomas police cruisers. According to reports in the London Free Press, police have returned to the plant to deal with other such incidents.

The union has expressed its discontent with those actions and is hopeful talks with management will resume this week.

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