Winnipeg malt plant’s workers set strike date

Unionized workers at Malteurop’s barley processing plant in Winnipeg expect to be walking a picket line Thursday morning.

The Transcona-area malt plant’s 22 workers, represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 832, rejected the multinational maltster’s most recent offer at a meeting Tuesday evening, the union said in a release Wednesday.

The plant has an annual production capacity of 90,000 tonnes of Pilsen malt, used by brewers as a base malt, particularly for lagers.

Most notable among Malteurop Canada’s customers, the union said Wednesday, is St. John, N.B.-based Moosehead Breweries. Run by New Brunswick’s Oland family, Moosehead’s St. John plant is also a UFCW shop.

“Moosehead drinkers across Canada will have to stock up on their favourite beverage before it’s too late,” the union said in its release.

UFCW Local 832 president Robert Ziegler said Malteurop has “refused to remove” its requests for concessions on pensions and benefits in contract negotiations, which he said have included five days with a conciliation officer from the Manitoba government.

The plant’s workers have had a strike mandate in place since July, Ziegler said, which prompted a return to talks after the union rejected Malteurop’s previous offer.

However, he said Wednesday, “the company came back with an offer that we feel was worse than the previous one.”

Unless Malteurop removes its demands for concessions, he said, “our members will be walking a picket line Thursday morning,” meaning 6 a.m. on Dec. 9.

Malteurop, based in Reims, France with 23 malting plants in 12 countries, has owned the Transcona plant since 2008 when it bought the assets of ADM Malting. A company representative wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday.

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