US-based meat packaging company Cargill has come to a tentative agreement with the union at the company’s Alberta’s processing plant, in an effort to avoid a strike that could potentially disrupt Canada’s food supply.
According to an emailed statement seen by Bloomberg on Wednesday, Cargill has devised a new contract to the union representing about 2,000 workers at the High River, Alberta processing plant, offering a 21% wage boost over the duration of the contract, retroactive pay of approximately $4,200, as well as $8,000 worth of potential bonuses for numerous workers. The deal has yet to approved via a scheduled vote starting on Thursday through to Saturday.
The latest contract offer marks the most generous of its kind in Canada, and comes ahead of the December 6 strike deadline. The High River facility accounts for approximately 40% of Canada’s beef processing capacity, and if the agreement fails to materialize, then the country’s meat supply could be in peril, during a time of soaring food inflation that is eroding away at consumers’ disposable income.
Previously, Cargill offered a contract consisting of a 19% wage increase over a duration of five years, coupled with a one-time bonus of $1,200; however, the offer was rejected by the union on November 24. Workers at Cargill’s Alberta plant raised concerns about the company’s adherence to Covid-19-related safety measures, after nearly half of the facility’s staff became ill with the virus last year, resulting in a temporary plant shutdown.
Cargill’s dilemma also comes at a time of heightened labour shortages across both Canada and the US, with workers demand higher wages as cash-strapped businesses and companies attempt to hire and retain employees.
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