ST. HYACINTHE, QUEBEC – Salary remains a sticking point in negotiations between Olymel LLC and the Union of Olymel Workers in Vallée-Jonction. Workers at the pork processing plant have been on strike since April 28.
Olymel management said the company accepted a settlement proposal from the conciliation team assigned to the case by the Quebec Ministry of Labor and Social Solidarity. However, union representatives say Olymel hasn't submitted a salary proposal. Olymel’s management expressed their disappointment, saying they were “...stunned by the attitude of union representatives who abruptly decided to leave the conciliation meeting, turning their back on a proposal that could resolve the ongoing dispute.”
“This proposal of the conciliation team contained all the elements capable of rallying the two parties,” said Paul Beauchamp, first vice president at Olymel. “The attitude of union representatives is incomprehensible and will only delay the resolution of a conflict that has gone on for too long.”
The Olymel hog slaughtering, cutting and boning plant in Vallée-Jonction, in the Beauce region, ceased operations due to the general strike called by the union. The impasse had led pork producers to urge both parties to resolve the dispute or risk the humane slaughter of market-ready hogs.
In July, Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec, a pork producers’ group, said the number of pigs available for slaughter has increased considerably since the strike at the plant in Vallée-Jonction began. The group blamed Olymel and the union for the conditions in which the pigs are living — a high number of heavier animals confined in buildings in summer heat. The group said that while producers are doing everything to avoid culling animals, they are running out of time.
“So far, we have done everything not to hit the wall where we would face humanitarian slaughter. Every day the attitude and actions of both sides increase the speed at which we are heading towards this wall,” said David Duval, president of Éleveurs de porcs du Québec. “We are receiving more and more calls from producers for whom the situation in buildings is critical. I once again urge the union and the employers, on behalf of all breeders, to come to an agreement quickly to avoid being faced with the unthinkable.”