Workers to Deliver Thousands of EI Petitions on MPs Doorstep at Pre-Budget Rally

January 20, 2009, 5:00 PM EST

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Workers and community activists will deliver thousands of signed petitions calling for emergency federal Employment Insurance relief to Conservative MP David Van Kesteren at a mass rally in Chatham, Ontario on January 24.

The rally, which is expected to draw crowds from across the Chatham-Kent and Essex region as well as surrounding areas, will take place in front of Van Kesteren's constituency office located on the corner of King Street and William Street in Chatham at 11am.

This event is a pre-budget rally, said CAW Local 127 President Aaron Neaves who represents workers at the Navistar truck plant in Chatham that has been devastated by major layoffs in the past year. 

"We are calling on the federal government to adopt long-overdue emergency EI relief measures to improve access and benefit protections for workers," Neaves said. "At the same time, our government must establish a national Buy Canadian policy for all publicly funded purchases in order to protect manufacturing jobs in this country."

"The lack of Canadian content requirements for public purchases is killing jobs in this country and the Chatham truck plant appears to be the next victim unless our government steps up to the plate now."

The federal government sparked outrage among workers in Chatham-Kent and across the country after a lucrative $254 million contract to build 1,300 new medium duty trucks for the Canadian Forces was awarded to Navistar.  The company plans to build these trucks in Texas and not at its Chatham plant where it is laying off workers.

CAW President Ken Lewenza is scheduled to speak at the rally, along with Neaves and Chatham-Kent Labour Council President Mike Byrne.

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