The Olymel-Westco partnership expects Maple Lodge to do its share to protect its workers

SAINT-FRANÇOIS-DE-MADAWASKA, NB, Sept. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - The partnership formed by Olymel and Westco demands that Maple Lodge representatives immediately accept the offer of mediation extended by the government in order to find a rapid solution that would protect jobs. The conditional response given by the Ontario company last week once again demonstrates that it is not doing anything concrete to protect jobs in the industry.

"Five times in the past few weeks, Maple Lodge has refused positive proposals that would have protected jobs, even though it has lost all the appeals it has lodged with the courts. For our part, we accepted the government's offer of mediation as soon as we received it, even though nothing requires us to reach agreement with the administration of the slaughterhouse apart from our desire to protect the workers in the long term," noted Westco President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Soucy.

During the summer, in the aftermath of a decision by the Competition Tribunal recognizing Westco's right to sell its birds to the buyer of its choosing, Olymel and Westco made several new proposals to Maple Lodge. The proposals included an offer to buy the slaughterhouse, a possible partnership agreement involving joint operation, a draft agreement on slaughtering at fair market value during construction of the new slaughterhouse, and payment of a premium along the lines of what Nadeau offers elsewhere. All these offers were rejected.

"The fact that we are temporarily sending our production to Québec is a direct consequence of Maple Lodge's lack of openness, even though it had all summer to reach an agreement with us. If we can reach a solution that is acceptable to all parties through the mediation process, we will stop shipping birds to Québec and resume supplying the Saint-François slaughterhouse. Maple Lodge must accept the offer of mediation without delay," Mr. Soucy concluded.

Westco wishes to make it clear that transferring its production to Québec is entirely legal in consequence of the decisions rendered by the New Brunswick Farm Products Commission, the Competition Tribunal, and the New Brunswick Court of Appeal.

About Westco

Groupe Westco inc. is a New Brunswick company with its head office in Saint-François-de-Madawaska. The result of a common vision for expansion by many poultry producers, the company has become a model of success and profitability. Westco owns its own hatcheries, breeding farms, and shipping companies, and is also one of the largest poultry production organizations in Canada. The company has a strong commitment to the community, and sponsors several social programs and contributes to fund-raising initiatives in its region.

About Olymel l.p.

Olymel l.p. is a leader in the slaughtering, processing and distribution of pork and poultry meat products in Canada, with facilities in Québec, Ontario, and Alberta. The company employs more than 10,000 persons and exports nearly half its production, mainly to the United States, Japan and Australia, as well as some sixty other countries. Its sales stood at $2.5 billion this year, with a slaughtering and processing capacity of 160,000 hogs and 1.6 million birds every week. The company markets its products mainly under the Olymel, Lafleur, and Flamingo brands.

SOURCE WESTCO GROUP INC.

For further information: For further information: Olymel L.P.: Richard Vigneault, Communications, (514) 497-1385, (450) 771-0400; Groupe Westco Inc.: Martin Daraiche, Senior Advisor, NATIONAL, Public Relations, (418) 648-1233 extension 230, Cell.: (418) 571-8528


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