Workers hit by job cuts at Electro-Motive Diesel

February 2, 2009, 3:37 PM EST

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Workers are shocked at the news that 600 jobs will be cut from the Electro-Motive Diesel plant that manufactures locomotives in London, Ontario, said CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie.

"Our members were initially bracing for a layoff of 350 to 400 this year because of a drop in demand for locomotives brought on by the global economic crisis," said Carrie, noting that rail freight loads have dropped significantly in Canada over the past year.

"These additional 200 jobs cuts are even more devastating and will have a tremendous impact on an already hard-hit community."

The drop in employment reduces the locomotive plants capacity down to about one-third. Job cuts will take place during three rounds of layoffs in February, March and April of 2009.

Ironically, the Harper government's recent changes to EI will have no impact on these workers during the initial stages of the lay-off, Carrie said.

"The workers and our community stand to lose $250,000 in wages and spending income in the month of February alone, since the two week waiting period for EI benefits is still in place."

The mass layoff comes on the heels of a new product launch at the plant expected in August. The London facility is set build 40 new fuel-efficient SD70M-2 trains for CN.

The company, formerly owned by General Motors and sold in 2004, is the second largest locomotive manufacturer in the world.

Layoffs are also expected at the company's Illinois facility.

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