Olymel, Quebec workers reach deal in principle

Agreement may end months-long strike at hog plant

(Sollio Co-operative Group video screengrab via YouTube)

The union for workers at a major pork slaughter and packing plant in Quebec’s Beauce region says it has a deal that may end a strike which has backed up hogs on farms in the province since late April.

The Syndicat des travailleurs d’Olymel Vallee-Jonction (STOVJ) — which represents over 1,000 employees at Olymel’s Vallee-Jonction plant, about 60 km southeast of Quebec City — said Saturday it had reached an agreement in principle Friday night with the company.

The union, in a one-paragraph statement, said it plans to call an assembly of its members to present the agreement.

That assembly’s date is to be set “in the coming days” once the union and company have completed revisions to the deal’s proposed text, STOVJ said.

Details of the agreement weren’t shared in Saturday’s statement, but Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet tweeted separately Saturday that the deal would put an end to the dispute, which has stopped work at the plant since April 28.

Les Eleveurs de porcs du Quebec, which represents Quebec hog producers, said Saturday it had been in constant communication with Olymel to try and manage the resulting backlog of slaughter-weight hogs on farms, such as by shipping animals to slaughter outside Quebec and/or selling off piglets to free up barn space.

The organization has described its members as the main collateral victims of the Vallee-Jonction labour dispute, affecting a plant with capacity to slaughter up to 35,000 hogs per week.

As of Aug. 6, the group estimated about 136,000 market-weight hogs still await slaughter, with a heat wave ahead that would make conditions difficult to manage in crowded barns.

The producer group said Saturday that in coming weeks it would press for heavier animals to be prioritized for slaughter as plant operations resume.

Boulet on Twitter congratulated union and Olymel negotiators along with provincially-appointed conciliators for finding a solution to the dispute.

Olymel, the pork and poultry packing division of the Sollio Co-operative Group, hasn’t yet issued a statement on the agreement.

The company had said July 30 it accepted a settlement proposal from the provincial conciliation team but was “extremely disappointed and stunned by the attitude of union representatives who abruptly decided to leave the conciliation meeting.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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