The meatpacker and hide processor 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 United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401, which represents around 2,000 workers at the plant, said the contract is “the best of its kind and presented unprecedented gains in this time of economic and political uncertainty”.

The deal reportedly includes a six-year collective agreement that includes retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21% wage increase over the life of the contract, improved health benefits, a C$1,000 (US$781) signing bonus and a C$1,000 (US$781) “Covid-19 bonus”.

The union reported that it had made extensive preparations for a strike, with tents erected in front of the plant, floodlights and propane heaters brought in, nearby fields levelled so that hundreds of workers could park and a picketing payroll system in development.

A statement from the union also noted that 2,500 employees at a JBS plant in the same region have been watching the situation carefully ahead of contract negotiations in the New Year.

Source: Rocky Mountain Outlook