365 workers in Toronto are on strike after negotiations with Nestle broke down
TORONTO, May 6, 2014 /CNW/ - After days of bargaining in good faith, talks between Unifor Local 252 and Nestle broke down when the company refused to negotiate a fair plan for pensions. The workers, who make a variety of Nestle chocolate bars including Kit Kat and Aero, have been in a legal strike position as of midnight on Saturday May 3, but members of the bargaining committee continued to negotiate with the employer until late Sunday night.
For days, the committee worked with the employer to find ways to improve the productivity of the facility and ensure a strong future for the company and its employees. Members were particularly concerned about securing and improving their defined benefit pension plan.
"The company first came to the table with the goal of eliminating the defined benefit pension plan altogether, which was a complete non-starter for us," said chairperson Said Duale.
"They then suggested a formula that would allow most workers to keep the current pension plan, but replace it with a defined contribution plan for 25 per cent of current employees and all future employees. For workers who have not had an increase to their pension in four years, this is unreasonable," said Duale.
The company has also taken the position that there will be no other improvements - to wages or benefits - with this offer.
"We're talking about the biggest food and beverage manufacturer in the world, and they're saying they can't afford a secure retirement for their dedicated employees?" said Paul Shiels, President of Unifor Local 252. "And on top of that we're told to accept a three year wage freeze."
"It just doesn't appear that they are as committed as us to finding an agreement that is fair for everyone," said Unifor's National President Jerry Dias. "This isn't about one collective agreement; it's about retirement security and good jobs for future generations."
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers across Canada. Unifor represents roughly 88,000 workers in manufacturing, 9,600 of whom work in the food and beverage industry. Unifor was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.
For further information:
contact Katie Arnup, Unifor communications at 416-333-8097 (cell).