Rogers Sugar suspends production at Montreal after strike

Reuters — Rogers Sugar, Canada’s largest sugar refiner, said Tuesday it has suspended production at its largest plant as workers went on strike after wage talks at the 128-year-old Montreal-based facility collapsed.

The company is implementing contingency measures to minimize disruption to customers. “There’s inventory, the company’s (other) facilities and other alternatives,” said a spokesman for the company, declining to give further details.

The refinery, operated by Lantic Inc., has capacity to produce about 440,000 tonnes per year of sugar and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rogers. It has about 200 unionized workers.

Talks between Lantic and the union began in March after a three-year contract expired.

Le Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de Sucre Lantic (FC-CSN), which represents the striking workers, said in a release Tuesday the outstanding issues included pension contributions and company use of subcontractors.

Protecting jobs is a key point for the union, president Marc l’Heureux said in the release, noting Lantic cut 59 jobs at the plant in 2014.

U.S. and Canadian industry players said the disruption at the key Montreal facility could cause supply ructions if it continued for a substantial length of time, given the importance of the Lantic refinery to the Canadian market.

Rogers also has a cane refinery at Vancouver and a sugar beet processing facility at Taber, Alta., about 50 km east of Lethbridge.

Reporting for Reuters by Josephine Mason and Chris Prentice in New York. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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