Olymel threatens to cut evening shift as strike at Quebec hog plant drags on

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A protracted labour dispute at a Quebec Olymel hog processing plant has resulted in the company announcing a “significant” reduction in activities at the Vallée-Jonction hog slaughterhouse and cutting plant.

Olymel says it has assessed every option and weighed “the concerns and uncertainty that this strike continues to cause for the plant’s supplies and deliveries to its customers.”

To that end, Olymel’s management announced its intent to cut the evening shift, resulting in the loss of more than 500 positions. Four months’ notice of termination will be sent to the employees affected by this decision in accordance with Quebec labour standards.

“This decision will come into effect at the end of the notice of termination period if no agreement is reached and accepted by the union members by Sunday evening (August 29) at midnight,” Olymel says in a press release.

Olymel released a strongly-worded press release August 24th, outlining that the union’s vote of “no” on August 17 on a proposed resolution to the four-month long strike, drove the company to make the decision.

The plant workers have been on strike since late April.

“Workers must understand that they already bear full responsibility for the dramatic situation of the hogs awaiting slaughter, their impending euthanasia, and the food waste that will result. Now they will also be responsible for the loss of 500 jobs and the consequences on these individuals, their families and the regional economy,” says Paul Beauchamp, Olymel’s senior vice president.

It appears that the largest hurdle is wages, a point the company says it is not willing to comply with the union’s demands, stating an increase in the “monetary aspects of [the August 14th] agreement in any way” would compromise the plant’s viability and competitiveness.

Meanwhile, hog producers in Quebec have been hanging on to hogs longer than planned, are shipping further or out of province, or euthanizing pigs.

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