Olymel’s St. Hyacinthe pork plant workers walk

Workers at Quebec meat packer Olymel’s pork processing plant at St. Hyacinthe, Que., walked off the job Friday over the company’s latest contract proposal, Quebec media report.

The Quebec farm paper La Terre de Chez Nous said on its website Tuesday that the workers are refusing to accept a proposed four-year pay freeze after taking a 20 per cent pay cut in 2005 to ward off the plant’s possible closure.

According to La Terre, Olymel was pledging not to ask for a new pay cut, but wanted to reorganize the plant’s operations, including hours of work, to improve its competitive position.

A company spokesman told the Canadian Press news service Monday that the company doesn’t expect any layoffs as a result of the reorganization. Richard Vigneault told CP the company’s profitability is fragile in the current economic climate.

But a union spokesman retorted in the same CP article that Olymel posted a profit of about $100 million in fiscal 2008 while pork producers have been suffering and the plant’s workers already took a pay cut.

The 450 striking workers’ last contract expired at the end of September.

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