/R E P E A T -- Negotiations for a new contract at the Olymel plant in Vallée-Jonction: Employees choose to stop work despite a responsible, final comprehensive offer from Olymel/

VALLÉE-JONCTION, QC, March 18, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - After four months of negotiations and four meetings in the presence of the conciliator appointed by the Ministry of Labour, Olymel finds itself facing an impasse due to the intransigence of the monetary demands made by the Union (CSN) representing Olymel employees at the hog slaughterhouse and butchering plant at Vallée-Jonction in the Beauce. To break the deadlock, Olymel management today tabled a responsible, final comprehensive offer with the goal of reaching an agreement for renewal of the collective agreement governing employees of the hog slaughterhouse and butchering plant at Vallée-Jonction in the Beauce.

"Olymel regrets that after weeks of negotiations in which both parties have actually agreed on virtually every normative clause, the union's unrealistic wage demands leave little room for the kind of flexibility that could lead to a reconciliation between the two sides. The gap appears unbridgeable. Therefore, in order to put an end to this stalemate, Olymel has decided to improve many aspects of its March 10 offer and ask the union to submit this offer to its members for approval," stated Olymel CEO Réjean Nadeau

A RESPONSIBLE FINAL COMPREHENSIVE OFFER

Olymel has presented positive offers excluding any recovery, despite losses in the fresh pork East sector in the last two years. The Olymel offer covers a three-year period and would result in a lump sum payment to employees, gains in terms of recognition of years of service, annual increases above inflation and improved benefits such as insurance and holidays. Olymel's responsible, final comprehensive offer thus provides wages and conditions that are superior to what is available for comparable work elsewhere in the industry in Canada, and even in North America. Olymel has also demonstrated to union leaders that Vallée-Jonction workers received overall remuneration 10% above that provided by other firms in the industry, even before the new offer was tabled. In spite of the improved offer, the union decided in favour of a work stoppage.

UNREASONABLE UNION DEMANDS

On February 18 the union tabled demands which, for the first year of a new agreement alone, represented a 37% payroll increase. These demands would pose the same difficulty the company faced in 2007, when its labour costs were so high compared to its competitors that it had to consider closing. Given current market conditions, Olymel management would be irresponsible if it agreed to conditions that would force the plant out of the market in the more or less short term. What the union is offering today amounts to raising our production costs again, thus placing our products in an untenable position vis-à-vis the competition, both in Canada and worldwide.

"Olymel management firmly believes that the offer it has made today addresses the challenges we face in the market and contains all the elements needed to keep working conditions at our Vallée-Jonction facility at the top of our industry in North America," Mr. Nadeau concluded.

Olymel has already taken steps to inform its customers and suppliers, pig producers in particular, of the work stoppage by employees at the Vallée-Jonction facility, which will cause disruptions in supplies as well as deliveries. Mitigation measures are already in place to minimize the impact of the work stoppage.

The Olymel pig slaughterhouse, butchering and boning facility at Vallée-Jonction in the Beauce has more than 1,000 employees working on two shifts. Its operations generate major spin-offs for the region's economy and benefit a large number of producers and other suppliers. Centrally located in a pig production zone, it has a weekly slaughtering capacity of 35,000 hogs and fabricates boned products, various cuts of pork and chilled fresh pork. Much of its production volume is exported to foreign markets.

About Olymel

Olymel is Canada's leader in the field of processing and distribution of pork and poultry meats. The company has made feeding the world its mission, which it pursues passionately with products of impeccable quality. In carrying out its mission every day, Olymel relies on its tradition of maintaining a strong link between farm and table, as well as on innovation and attention to customer and consumer needs. The company employs close to 10,000 persons, including more than 7,000 in Quebec, and has large facilities in Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. Olymel exports nearly a third of its total sales, mainly to the United States, Japan and Australia, as well as over 60 other countries. Its annual sales are on the order of 2.8 billion dollars.

SOURCE Olymel l.p.

For further information: Richard Vigneault, Corporate Communications, (514) 497-1385, (450) 771-0400


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