ST. HYACINTHE, QUEBEC – Company leadership at Olymel LLC said the company will eliminate the evening shift at its Vallée Jonction pork processing plant if no labor agreement is reached and accepted by union members by Aug. 29 at midnight. More than 500 jobs are stake, the company said.

Olymel ceased operations at the company’s hog slaughtering, cutting and boning plant in Vallée-Jonction due to a general strike called by the union. The impasse led pork producers to urge both parties to resolve the dispute or risk the humane slaughter of market-ready hogs. Workers have been on strike since April 28. The union represents roughly 1,050 workers at the facility.

“Union leaders must recognize that their strategy has failed. As a responsible employer, Olymel has no choice but to deploy all the means at its disposal to mitigate the negative impact of this strike, which has now lasted four months,” said Paul Beauchamp, senior vice president at Olymel.

“Employees have until midnight Sunday to reconsider the no vote on Aug. 17,” Beauchamp said. “The employer is still willing to make adjustments within the parameters of the Aug. 14 agreement in principle but will not be able to increase the monetary aspects of this agreement in any way, as it would compromise the plant’s viability and competitiveness.”

The announcement comes after 57% of the union members rejected the latest offer from the company. Salary remains a key sticking point in negotiations between Olymel and the Union of Olymel Workers.

“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,” Beauchamp continued. “Now they will also be responsible for the loss of 500 jobs and the consequences on these individuals, their families and the regional economy.”