Strike ends at Exceldor poultry plant in Quebec

Union members vote to take six-year deal

(Exceldor video screengrab via YouTube)

A month-long strike at one of Quebec’s biggest poultry slaughter and processing plants is ending after unionized workers voted to accept a new agreement reached through mediation.

About 500 unionized workers at Exceldor Co-operative’s plant at Saint-Anselme, about 30 km southeast of Quebec City, have been on strike since May 23. The previous contract between Exceldor United Food and Commercial Workers (TUAC) Local 1991-P expired last July 31.

Exceldor, in a release Saturday, hailed the “positive outcome” of the workers’ vote on a proposal tabled by provincial mediator Helene Poulin.

The company said it would co-operate fully with the union to ensure a “harmonious” return to work as soon as possible, but added it would take several days to gradually resume production at full capacity.

The co-operative noted it had already agreed Thursday to the proposal’s terms so as to prevent waste of food and to ensure markets continue to be supplied — “even though the terms of the new collective agreement will effectively redefine the poultry market in Quebec.”

Exceldor didn’t elaborate in Saturday’s release, but Le Bulletin des agriculteurs on Saturday quoted union officials as saying workers had voted 66 per cent in favour of a six-year agreement that boosts the hourly wage at the plant to $23.85, up from $20.71.

Le Bulletin also quoted union officials as saying wages will increase by almost 20 per cent over the length of the contract, with further adjustments for inflation if need be.

Provincial Labour Minister Jean Boulet said on Twitter Saturday that his staff would work with the parties in resuming operations at the plant and it’s now time to “look to the future.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault had said on June 16 on Facebook that “thousands” of chickens were being euthanized due to the Saint-Anselme strike, estimating about 13 per cent of the province’s poultry production was essentially going in the trash each week the strike continued.

Les Eleveurs de volailles du Quebec, the province’s poultry producer association, said Saturday on Facebook its membership was glad to learn of an end to the strike and that work at Saint-Anselme would soon resume.

The work stoppage at Saint-Anselme puts emphasis on maintaining good working conditions and dialogue between all actors in the poultry sector in the future, to assure the responsiveness of all links in the supply chain, the producer association said. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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