Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Que. Olymel workers approve deal to end strike

Hog slaughter work to resume Tuesday, company says


Unionized workers at meat packer Olymel’s hog slaughter and packing plant in Quebec’s Beauce region are heading back to work after voting to accept a new six-year labour deal.

Out of about 940 striking workers at the Vallee-Jonction hog plant represented by CSN (Confederation des syndicats nationaux), 816 met Friday at nearby Tring-Jonction and voted about 70 per cent by secret ballot in favour of the new deal.

Under the deal, brokered by provincial labour ministry conciliator Jean Nolin, workers are to get raises totalling two per cent over the first three years and 1.75 per cent over the remaining three years.

The deal also includes a base signing bonus of $800 per employee plus $55 per year of service, and a 14 per cent increase in Olymel’s contributions to the employee insurance plan.

Nolin presented the proposed deal to workers, who’ve been on strike since March 18, at their meeting Friday.

The company and union agreed on a gradual return-to-work protocol which Olymel said Friday will depend on available hog volumes and the “product mix.”

The Vallee-Jonction plant has capacity to slaughter up to 35,000 hogs per week and produces boned products, pork cuts and fresh chilled pork, mainly for export markets.

Maintenance and sanitation work at the Vallee-Jonction plant is to begin Friday, Olymel said, as hog supplies are expected to resume Monday evening, followed by slaughtering on Tuesday and butchering operations on Wednesday.

Olymel said its teams are “already hard at work to ensure a supply of hogs at the facility.”

“We are hopeful that, together with our employees and the union leaders, we have found the conditions that will allow this large facility to return to its place in our organization and continue to serve our markets and customers,” Olymel CEO Rejean Nadeau said in the company’s release.

“I am confident that, thanks to the dedication of our teams already on site, we can recover the greater part of the deliveries we were forced to cancel in recent weeks.”

All non-union staff members who were laid off on Monday will be recalled, Olymel said Friday.

Nadeau on Friday also thanked those “who helped minimize the adverse effects that could have arisen from the situation since March 18, and especially to (the provincial hog producers’ association) Les eleveurs de porcs du Quebec and its president David Boissonneault, who spared no effort in mobilizing all industry partners to reduce congestion in the slaughtering process.”

“Despite the threat of plant closure we again faced, we leave this strike with our heads held high, and we’re convinced we’ve obtained the most we could have sought, with the help of the conciliator,” union local president Martin Maurice said in CSN’s release Friday. –– Network


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