by JIM ALGIE
Negotiators have reached a tentative agreement in contract talks for workers at Ontario’s largest beef processing plant, Cargill Meat Solutions in Guelph, a United Food and Commercial Workers spokesman told Better Farming, Friday.
“We were able to reach a recommended settlement and we’ll present it to the members on Tuesday,” Rob Nicholas said in a brief interview. Director of the union’s Hamilton-based Region Six, Nicholas declined to discuss details of the settlement, Friday.
“It’s only fair that the membership hears from us directly,” Nicholas said during an interview by cell phone. Union members provided negotiators with a strong strike mandate at a meeting last Saturday, Nicholas said.
Following last Saturday’s strike vote, however, negotiators for the union and employer met Wednesday with a government mediator in a session that produced the potential settlement, Nicholas said. A Guelph Tribune report on Tuesday said company and union representatives had met six times previously in an attempt to reach new employment terms for the company’s 700 union employees.
A prior four-year contract expired at the end of 2015.
Cargill’s Guelph general manager, Matt Gibney, could not be reached for comment, Friday.
The Tribune’s Tuesday story quoted Gibney to say he was “hopeful” of an agreement “that’s satisfactory to both parties.”
LeaAnne Wuermli, Beef Farmers of Ontario communications manager said Friday that the farmers’ group had learned of recent progress in the talks.
Cargill Meat Solutions is the largest federal packing plant in Ontario and “is a critically important facility for the beef industry in Ontario,” Wuermli said.
“We are hopeful that the negotiations will come to a successful conclusion and that business will continue as usual,” the BFO spokeswoman said. BF