MONTREAL — Over 250 striking meatpackers, members of the Union of Olymel Workers at Vallee-Jonction, marched to the Labour Ministry in Quebec City July 7 to demand the arbitrator take steps to end the bosses’ refusal to negotiate. More than 1,000 workers have been on strike since April 28. Olymel is the biggest pork producing chain in Canada.
Signs on the march read, “Respect doesn’t go on holidays, we want to negotiate.”
When the last negotiation session took place July 1 and 2, the union put forward a proposal for a settlement, but the bosses demanded more concessions and then announced they wouldn’t be available for further talks before July 19.
Under pressure from the workers’ action, bosses said they would now agree to meet for talks July 12-13. “We expect that Olymel will restart the negotiations in a serious manner,” union President Martin Maurice told the press.
A central issue is wages. In 2007 the bosses imposed a 38% wage cut when Olymel threatened to close the plant. Little progress has been made since.
Close to 106,000 hogs are in holding, waiting to be slaughtered. Because of the strike the bosses are redirecting hogs to other Olymel facilities. David Duval, president of Les Eleveurs de Porcs du Quebec (Quebec Pork Producers), threatens that in three to four weeks they may begin killing pigs if they can’t be processed. Their aim is to try and turn public opinion against the strikers.
Help prevent this. Send solidarity messages and contributions for strikers to Syndicat des Travailleurs d’Olymel, Vallee-Jonction, 243 Rue Principale, Vallee-Jonction, QC G0S 3J0.