Deal ends lockout at Toronto beef packing plant

Workers at Ontario’s third-biggest federally inspected beef plant voted Friday in favour of a new contract, ending a three-week lockout for Toronto’s Ryding Regency Meat Packers.

The new contract, retroactive to March 2012, runs until March 2016 and covers 130 workers at the Toronto slaughter and processing plant, according to their union, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW) Local 1000A.

The workers, who’d been locked out since Aug. 31, will be back on the job Monday, a union spokesman said.

UFCW had said in a separate release last Thursday (Sept. 12) that Ryding Regency was demanding “a wage freeze, the imposition of temporary workers and the cancellation of short-term disability benefits.”

According to Don Taylor, lead negotiator on Local 1000A’s bargaining committee, the workers’ new agreement includes wage increases of 75 cents per hour over the term of the contract and the disability benefits have been reinstated.

The contract allows the company to bring in three non-union temporary workers where needed, but those workers can become full members of the bargaining unit after 90 shifts, Taylor said Friday.

Ryding Regency, which started as a boning operation in 1983, expanded into slaughter in 1991 and now processes over 65,000 head of cattle, 4,000 veal calves and 4,000 lambs per year. The company reports annual sales of about $90 million.

The company, owned by businessman Joe Petronaci, includes two other southern Ontario meat processing plants, according to Taylor: St. Ann’s Foods of St. Anns, and Toronto’s Canadian Select Meats.

St. Ann’s was offline from February to May this year when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended its federal operating license over “deficiencies in hygienic practices.” — AGCanada.com Network

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