EDMONTON-The AFL today reacted to Tyson Food's rejection of the Disputes Inquiry Board (DIB) recommendations to resolve the Lakeside Foods dispute by calling on the Minister to use the full authority he possesses as the Human Resources Minister to find a resolution to this dispute.
"Right now, most people think there are only two options to resolve this dispute � accept the DIB or suffer a prolonged strike," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "There is a third option. The Minister can take a leadership role and use his powers to pressure Tyson to find a settlement."
The AFL sent a letter to the Minister this morning asking for a meeting and urging him to take a more active role in the dispute.
"If a long strike hits Lakeside, it has the potential to send our beef producers reeling," says McGowan. "After BSE, the industry is just getting back on its feet, and it is still very fragile. Disruption to Alberta's largest beef processing plant could do irreparable harm to ranchers and farmers still struggling under mountains of debt and facing rapidly rising energy costs."
"The Minister needs to step in," observes McGowan. "Tyson is unmoving. They are sending a clear signal that they have no intention of trying to find a resolution. This is unacceptable."
"In other provinces, the government has the ability to impose a first collective agreement if either party is being intransigent," notes McGowan. "Legislation allowing this in Alberta would go a long way to preventing situations such as Lakeside. But in the meantime, the least the Minister can do is step into the dispute and help find a solution."
In July, on the verge of a strike, the Minister appointed a one-person DIB to try to find an acceptable compromise at the packing plant. The Report was given to the parties last week. The union, UFCW 401, voted in favour of the recommendations. Yesterday, Tyson indicated it considers the recommendations "too generous", and has rejected them. The union is in a legal position to go on strike with 72 hours notice.
"The Minister can sit on his hands and watch Brooks blow up in the next couple of weeks, or he can take a leadership role and find a way to settle this dispute. His choice," McGowan concludes.
- 30 -
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell)