August 30, 2021 - No. 76
Tentative Agreement at Olymel Plant in Vallée-Jonction, Quebec
Olymel Should Negotiate, Not Dictate! Support Olymel Workers!
On August 29, a tentative agreement was reached between Olymel and the
Olymel Vallée-Jonction-CSN Workers Union for the renewal of the
collective agreement. The union will submit the content of the
agreement to its members on August 31.
Workers at the Vallée-Jonction hog slaughterhouse have been
on strike since April 28 to back their demands for serious improvements
in their wages and working conditions, which they describe as
untenable. It is a strike for respect, they say, after their wages,
working conditions and pension plan were slashed in 2007, and after a
exhausting work under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Olymel management has shown no respect for the workers and has been
threatening to close the plant if the workers do not give up their
demands for conditions they deem acceptable. The August 29 tentative
agreement itself was reached with a gun to the head of the workers.
Olymel has threatened to end the evening shift at the plant, which
would eliminate 500 positions, about half of the jobs at the plant. The
company announced that layoff notices were ready and would be sent to
the 500 affected workers on the morning of August 30 if no agreement
was reached between the company and the union by the end of the day on
August 29. Olymel is sticking to its threat, and now says it
will send out the layoff notices on September 1 if the workers reject
the tentative agreement.
August 17, the workers rejected a tentative agreement reached between
the union and the company, deeming it insufficient to meet their
demands. According to information provided by the union, the main
points that remain in dispute are wages, the length of the collective
agreement and work schedules, including the imposition of a
ten-hour evening shift, which the workers reject.
The Quebec government, while hypocritically declaring its support
for a negotiated settlement, has remained silent on Olymel's attempt to
impose its dictate through threats of closure. Increased pressure has
also been put on the Vallée-Jonction workers by the monopoly
media who blame them for the possible euthanasia of more than 130,000
hogs if the strike continues. They decry the suffering of the hogs
crammed together in the heat wave but are silent about the working
conditions of the Vallée-Jonction workers, particularly the
history of dreadful concessions imposed on them under the threat of
On this subject, the union wrote on August 24:
"In 2007, the Vallée-Jonction employees had a total reduction
of nearly 40 per cent of their income imposed on them under the threat
of the total closure of the plant. Let's repeat it again: in 14 years,
from 2007 to 2021, the lowest paid employees of our plant have seen
their base wage increase by a meager $1.13 per hour, or about $0.08 per
"For all the employees who have been the recipients of this contempt
for so many years, it is clear that Olymel's tactics and attitude will
not solve its serious problem of attracting and retaining its
workforce, while at the same time threatening the industrial peace
necessary for the smooth running of its operations. If pork producers
for the real culprit in the current situation, it is Olymel's senior
management that must be held accountable. Worse yet, against all logic,
by abolishing its evening shift, Olymel will have difficulty catching
up with the backlog of hogs that has been building up since the
beginning of the labour dispute.
"They may want to blame the union for the hogs that could be
euthanized, but it is Olymel that signs the contracts with the farmers,
that manages its supplies and that must also reach an agreement with
its employees. In the public arena, Olymel seems to be more concerned
with the fate of the pigs than with that of its own employees. Imagine
how they feel right now."
Workers' Forum reiterates its full support for the Olymel
workers in Vallée-Jonction for negotiated conditions that they
deem acceptable and their firm opposition to the dictate exercised by
Olymel against the workers.
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