Caterpillar CFO: Canada labor dispute not affecting output

Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:48pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc's CAT.N chief financial officer said on Thursday a labor dispute at a locomotive factory in London, Ontario, has had no impact on the company's ability to meet customer demand for its products in the first quarter.

More than 400 production workers at Caterpillar's Electro-Motive subsidiary in Canada have been locked out of the factory since January 1 due to an unresolved contract dispute. Caterpillar asked the workers -- represented by the Canadian Auto Workers union -- to accept wage and benefit concessions but the two sides have been unable to forge a deal.

"I don't see anything relative to customer demand" or being able to meet orders, Caterpillar CFO Ed Rapp said in an interview.

Rapp said he doesn't "really have a view" on what the specific outcome of the dispute will be. The CAW has speculated that Caterpillar may end up closing the plant and relying on non-Canadian facilities.

Rapp said Caterpillar's goal is to be competitive.

"If you're not constantly looking at what it takes to be competitive ... you're not going to sustain yourself over the long haul," Rapp said.

Electro-Motive is part of Caterpillar's Alabama-based Progress Rail Services division, which competes with General Electric Co GE.N and Bombardier Inc. BBDb.TO.

Caterpillar posted record annual results Thursday, partially driven by a sales increase in its rail business. The company projected further growth for the segment in 2012.

(Reporting By John Stoll; editing by Mark Porter)