Soap factory workers locked out

OAKVILLE, ON, May 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Despite attempts by Unifor to keep contract talks going, workers at soap manufacturer JemPak GK Inc. in Oakville have been locked out by the company.

Security guards escorted the workers off the property today at around noon.

At issue is a company demand that the union representing the 22 workers, Unifor Local 132-O, agree that any new hires are not members of the union, that managers be able to do work currently done by union members and an end to seniority rights.

"We are ready to go back to work at any time, and to return to the bargaining table to work out a reasonable deal," said Unifor Local President Brian Bartlett.

"We cannot accept any deal that lessens our ability to represent workers at the plant."

Bartlett said the union had worked with a conciliator to set a new day for talks on the eve of the lockout, but were told by the conciliator that the company would not meet.

"We've had two, very brief, meetings with the company to negotiate a new contract," he said.

The company has also demanded significant economic concessions.

"We are prepared to meet any time to present a proposal to end this dispute," Bartlett said

At the last meeting with the company on April 10, JemPak asked for a No Board report from the Ontario Labour Relations Board to be filed on April 29, starting the clock ticking to a strike or lockout date 17 days later. That would have seen the workers locked out May 16, but the company sent them home a day early with pay.

The union has filed a bargaining in bad faith charge with the labour board, with a hearing set for May 26. The results of a final offer vote demanded by the company have been sealed until that case is settled.

JemPak makes laundry and dish detergent sold at Costco and Walmart, among others. The collective agreement between the company and the union expired May 15.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

SOURCE: Unifor

For further information:

please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at or (cell) 647-385-4054 or Unifor National Representative for Local 132-O Bruce Teran at or (cell) 416-788-2890.

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