ST. HYACINTHE, QUEBEC – Olymel LLC announced the company reached an agreement in principle with the Olymel Workers Union in Vallée Jonction. Union members at the plant have been on strike since April. In the absence of an agreement due to a stalemate over salaries, Olymel said it would eliminate the evening shift at the Vallée Jonction pork processing plant unless a labor agreement was reached and accepted by union members by Aug. 29 at midnight.
“The decision to abolish the evening shift announced on Aug. 24 is therefore suspended to allow the union leaders to organize a general assembly of its members and will remain suspended until the vote of the members of the Olymel Workers Union in Vallée-Jonction (CSN) is held,” said Paul Beauchamp, first vice president at Olymel. “The closing of the evening shift had become necessary in the prospect of an indefinite continuation of the strike. This difficult decision will be abandoned in the event of a vote in favor of the agreement in principle reached today, which would receive a favorable recommendation from the union executives.”
Olymel ceased operations at the company’s hog slaughtering, cutting and boning plant in Vallée-Jonction due to the general strike called by the union. Workers have been on strike since April 28. The union represents roughly 1,050 workers at the facility.
The impasse led pork producers to urge both parties to resolve the dispute or risk the humane slaughter of market-ready hogs.
“A favorable vote will end a strike that entered its fifth month yesterday and has had extremely negative economic impacts on the company and the region and still poses the threat of humanitarian slaughter and food waste, in addition to coercing several Quebec pork producers under unacceptable breeding conditions,” Beauchamp said.
Olymel’s management agreed to postpone sending dismissal letters to more than 500 employees assigned to the evening shift until Wednesday, Sept. 1. The letters were to be sent Aug. 31. The company also said management will not make any further comment until the vote by union members.