Canadian Manufacturing

Ongoing Toronto strike threatens ‘reliable’ beer can supply: union

USW said strike at Crown Holdings makes beer makers "particularly vulnerable" heading into spring

TORONTO—The union representing striking workers at a Toronto can manufacturing plant says the six-month job action is “threatening reliable supplies” of drink containers for beer makers like Molson Coors Brewing Co.

According to the United Steelworkers (USW) union, the ongoing strike—and the use of replacement workers—at Crown Holdings, Inc.’s plant in Toronto is causing headaches for beer makers Molson Coors and Labatt Brewing Co., as well as Canadian soft drink maker Cott Corp.

“We believe that using replacement workers is causing problems with quality control, shipment returns and failed efforts to operate the plant,” Lawrence Hay, a USW representative, said in a statement released by the union.

The union said beer makers are “particularly vulnerable” to potential supply disruptions as they head into the busy spring and summer season.

About 130 Crown workers from the plant have been on strike since Sept. 6, 2013.

In addition to recruiting replacement workers keep the plant operating during the labour dispute, the USW alleges Crown has been importing cans from its plants in the United States to meet Canadian demand.

“Importing replacement workers and incurring costs to ship cans—and risking the loss of its customer base in Canada—shows the lengths that Crown’s management will go to try to break our union,” Hay said.

The USW said Crown is seeking two-tier wage rates and pension freezes in negotiations with the union.

Crown’s Toronto is the U.S.-based company’s largest facility in Canada.

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