TORONTO - Heavy equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. says it is closing a tunnel-boring machine factory in Toronto by mid-2014, throwing 330 workers out of a job.
Caterpillar acquired the facility in 2008 when it bought Lovat Inc. and got into the tunnelling business, but now says the plant is no longer a "strategic growth opportunity" and will be shut down.
Employees at the plant recently worked on four boring machines being used to chew through ground for the construction of the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown light rapid transit line in Toronto.
The company says the 330 workers are being offered a severance package as well as assistance to help them find new jobs.
It says the closure will not impact existing customer contracts, with parts and service support to be continued through 2016.
The closure comes after some 500 employees were let go when a London, Ont., locomotive plant owned by a Caterpillar subsidiary was shut last year after a month-long lockout over a wage dispute with workers.
A company executive said the Toronto tunnelling business is no longer a good fit for Caterpillar.
"We know this is difficult news for our employees and their families. We acquired a great team when we bought this company, and while they have demonstrated an ability to build quality products, the future prospects of this business no longer align with our expectations," customer and dealer support president Stu Levenick said in a release.
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Labour Day: A Canadian Invention
Few Canadians realize it, but Labour Day is as Canadian as maple bacon. It all began in 1872, when the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike to demand a nine-hour workday. When <i>Globe and Mail</i> chief George Brown had the protest organizers arrested, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald passed a law legalizing labour unions. Thus, a Conservative prime minister became a hero to the working class, and Canada became among the first countries to limit the workday, doing so decades before the U.S. The typographers' marches became an annual event, eventually being adopted by the U.S., becoming the modern day Labour Day.
The Winnipeg General Strike
The end of World War I brought social instability and economic volatility to Canada. On May 15, 1919, numerous umbrella union groups went out on strike in Winnipeg, grinding the city to a halt. Protesters were attacked in the media with epithets such as "Bolshevik" and "Bohunk," but resistance from the media and government only strengthened the movement. In June, the mayor ordered the Mounties to ride into the protest, prompting violent clashes and the death of two protesters. After protest leaders were arrested, organizers called off the strike. But the federal mediator ended up ruling in favour of the protesters, establishing the Winnipeg General Strike as the most important strike in Canadian history, and a precursor to the country's modern labour movement.
The Regina Riot
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