The protest was launched by the United Steelworkers (USW) trade union in Toronto and has the backing of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
Pension cuts, wage cuts
A row broke out after 120 Toronto Steelworkers, who have manufactured beer cans at Crown Holdings North York factory for 25 years, were forced to strike in 2013, after the multi-national company allegedly cut pensions, eliminated the cost of living allowance and cut wages for new starters.
Crown has refused to negotiate a fair resolution to the 19-month strike, according to USW, and is rumoured to have said in the event of a settlement, most union members will lose their jobs to replacement workers recruited to operate the Toronto factory during the strike.
"We welcome the support of the Canadian Labour Congress and working people across the country for a nationwide boycott of beer cans," said Ken Neumann, national director, USW.
"This boycott provides tremendous support to a group of courageous workers who are standing up and fighting for decent, middle-class jobs. This is another case of a highly profitable, multinational corporation trying to kill good jobs in Canada, without any justification other than it has the wealth and power to do so."
Carnival Cruise Lines AGM
In a further twist to the dispute, a delegation of Crown workers will protest at the Carnival Cruise Lines AGM in London tomorrow (April 14) and outside the Carnival HQ in Southampton, UK on Wednesday (April 15) because Arnold Donald, CEO, Carnival, is on the board of directors at Crown.
Officers from Unite, the UK’s largest union, will accompany USW members into the AGM to question the CEO and board of directors on the dispute.
“We believe Arnold Donald can use his influence as both CEO of Carnival and his board role at Crown to bring this dispute to a fair conclusion,” said Ian Tonks, national officer, Unite.
Unite and USW formed a global trade union called Workers Uniting in 2008, with both unions providing mutual support in disputes with multi-national corporations, such as Crown Holdings.
Philadelphia City Council has pledged its support to strikers by unanimously passing a resolution last week condemning Crown Holdings, where its corporate headquarters are based, for its actions.
The resolution cited Crown's deep roots in Philadelphia beginning in 1936 and its status among the top 10 Fortune 500 companies in the metro area.
It referred to the cause of the strike as a demand by Crown to cut the wages of new workers by 42% to rates that existed in 1987 and said, the council "condemns the actions of Crown Holdings and calls upon the company to drop its anti-union demands and negotiate a fair contract that gives all of the USW strikers a fair opportunity to return to work."
FoodProductionDaily.com has contacted Crown Holdings and is awaiting comment.