Canadian Manufacturing

Soap factory workers locked out in Oakville, Ont., union claims

Employees locked out at JemPak GK Inc. plant after collective bargaining talks broke down

OAKVILLE, Ont.—The union representing employees at an Ontario laundry and dish detergent plant claims workers were locked out by management this week after talks broke down between the sides.

According to Unifor, 22 employees were escorted from a JemPak GK Inc. plant in Oakville, Ont., “despite attempts by (the union) to keep contract talks going.”

Talks broke down after management asked for “significant economic concessions,” including axing seniority rights, Unifor claims.

Unifor said the company also wants to put an end to union memberships for new hires.

“We are ready to go back to work at any time, and to return to the bargaining table to work out a reasonable deal,” Unifor local president Brian Bartlett said in a statement. “(But) 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 that the company would not meet.

“We’ve had two, very brief, meetings with the company to negotiate a new contract,” he said. “We are prepared to meet any time to present a proposal to end this dispute.”

The union said JemPak asked for a no-board report, which indicates the two sides are unable to resolve their differences, from the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) to be filed on April 29.

A no-board report does not mean a strike or lockout will occur, but rather that it can legally occur after 17 days.

The filing would have seen the workers locked out May 16, but the union said management sent them home a day early with pay.

The union has filed a bargaining in bad faith charge with the OLRB, 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.

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