Strike threatens beef supply at Cargill plant

Published:  29 November, 2021

Meatpacker and hide processor, Cargill issued a lockout notice to workers at one of Canada’s largest meat-packing plants on November 25, a day after union workers at the High River facility voted overwhelmingly against the company’s latest contract offer, putting them in a position to strike as early as December 6.

The owner of a southern Alberta plant that processes about a third of Canada's beef says it will lock out employees on December 6, the same day that workers had recently voted to strike on if the company and the union cannot reach a deal.

Cargill intends to commence a complete lockout of all staff in the bargaining unit represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 at its plant near High River as of 12:01 a.m. on December 6, according to a statement from the organisation's vice-president of labour relations, Tanya Teeter. 

A strike would come as prices of red meat approach record highs in North America amid global supply chain struggles. A shutdown at the High River facility would inject more uncertainty into that market, as that plant accounts for roughly 40% of Canada’s beef processing capacity, employing roughly 2,000 workers across two shifts and processing about 4,500 head of cattle daily.