Friday, February 05, 2010

Last November 24 Molly reported (one of three reports on the subject here at Molly's Blog) on the call on the part of locked out workers at XL Foods in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan for a boycott of XL products. At the time I had some rather harsh words for the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) and their hesitation in calling for such a boycott. That hesitation, I am happy to say, is over, and the SFL has called for a boycott in support of the workers who have been locked out since the beginning of last September. Better late than never I guess. Here's the story from The Canadian Cattlemen.
Sask. unions call for XL boycott over lockout:
With no new talks in sight to end a lockout at XL Foods' beef processing plant at Moose Jaw, Sask., the province's labour leaders have called for a boycott of the Alberta parent company's beef.

As of Wednesday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) Local 1400, which represents 200 employees at the Moose Jaw plant, reported no bargaining dates have been set and XL Foods has yet to respond since the workers voted in October to reject its last offer.

The workers, who have been without a contract since the end of January, came back in September from a five-month shutdown to be greeted by a company-imposed lockout, then rejected an XL Foods contract offer later that month.

"XL Foods locked out those workers to put pressure on them to accept concessions at the bargaining table," the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour said in a statement.

The Regina-based SFL, the overarching body for unionized labour in the province, urged in its statement that consumers "ask where (the) meat comes from" at grocery stores and meat markets, and not to buy if the answer is XL Foods.

"If you are at a restaurant, ask where the beef is coming from; if the answer is XL Foods, consider some other product," the SFL said.

It also recommended that consumers ask those questions every time they buy beef, as businesses may switch suppliers often for better pricing.

UFCW president Norm Neault said recently members have been distributing leaflets with the same general message.

Neault said he had yet to hear from XL but recently had heard from a provincial conciliator.

Unionized employees walking the line at the Moose Jaw facility recently got a boost in picket pay, he said, as affiliated unions in the U.S. raised money to support the locked-out staff.

That news was offset by a recent ruling from the federal Employment Insurance program, which according to Neault said the locked-out workers are not entitled to EI benefits relating to their layoffs beyond XL's originally scheduled recall date of Sept. 28, 2009. The company by that time had announced the lockout.

The UFCW noted that its Local 401 is also currently in talks with XL at the company's Calgary beef plant. UFCW-represented staff at that plant have been working under the terms of their last contract, which expired at the end of March 2009.

Bargaining sessions between the union and XL in Calgary are scheduled for Feb. 23 and 25, UFCW staff in Regina said.

Bargaining is also expected to begin in early 2010 for unionized staff at XL's plant at Brooks, Alta.

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