MONTREAL, June 10, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Forty-four workers, mostly recent immigrants, have been locked out of their jobs at Mercedes Textiles in Ville-Saint-Laurent after they rejected the company's regressive contract offer.
The locked-out employees, members of Local 1-1000 of the Syndicat des Métallos (United Steelworkers), have been subjected to poor working conditions they attribute to high turnover rates in their workplace.
"This company hires recently arrived workers who they think are easier to exploit," said Local 1-1000 Vice-President Darlene Jalbert. "But these workers are standing up and demanding respect. Many of them have to work two or three jobs to support their families, so they don't want to be forced to work mandatory overtime, as this company is proposing."
Rather than negotiate a fair contract, Mercedes Textiles locked out its employees Monday to try to enforce numerous concessions, including a longer probationary period before employees can earn full wages.
The workers accepted sub-standard wage settlements in previous contract negotiations when the company asked for help in coping with the impacts of a high American dollar. They are now asking their employer to reciprocate, proposing modest wage hikes of three per cent to reverse a slide into poverty.
"The plant is running at full capacity and has a lot of contracts, but this company does not recognize nor appreciate our hard work," said Arvin Dizon, chairman of the locked-out workers' bargaining unit.
"Every day they try to exploit us a bit more," Dizon said. "We recently noticed they were purposely ringing the bell one minute early to end our breaks, to account for the time it takes for us to walk back to our work stations."
The Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the FTQ, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec. It has more than 60,000 members working in all economic sectors (mining, metallurgy, manufacturing, security, the hotel and restaurant industries, trucking, taxis, etc.).
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos Communications, 514-774-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org