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Locked-Out XL Staff Keep Talking

Talks have been scheduled in an effort to resolve a labour dispute between XL Foods and the company’s unionized members represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1400, an official with the union confirmed Sept. 29.

“We have notified officials with XL Foods that the unionized members would like to get back to the bargaining table as quick as possible to resolve the issues which have prevented a new collective agreement from being reached,” said Norm Neault, president of the UFCW Local 1400 in Regina of the meetings slotted for Oct. 7, 8 and 15.

The unionized workers at the XL Food’s beef-packing plant at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan solidly rejected the latest contract offer from the company, which locked them out in late September. The workers voted 69 per cent in favour of rejecting the offer at a ratification vote held Sept. 27, Neault said.

The workers had just ended a five-month layoff blamed on a shortage of slaughter cattle. Employees have been without a contract since January 31, 2009. Just prior to the worker’s expected recall date, the union was informed that the layoff was superceded by an indefinite lockout.

Neault said the unionized employees were unhappy with the company’s mandatory overtime requirement, the removal of several wage hikes that had been agreed to by competitor beef packing companies and their employees as well as a reduced holiday structure.

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