EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) is calling upon Mike Cardinal, the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, to make sure that Tyson Foods, Inc, the giant American corporation that operates the Lakeside Packing plant in Brooks, respects the Dispute Inquiry Board recommendations released today.
"It was the Minister, himself, who appointed the one-person Disputes Inquiry Board," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "He chose John Moreau, a well-respected industrial relations professional, to deal with this volatile issue and write a report recommending the basis for a fair settlement."
"Mike Cardinal cannot now simply allow the company to ignore Mr. Moreau's recommendations. If the continued operation of the Lakeside plant was critical enough to the Alberta beef industry and ranchers to call a Disputes Inquiry Board to prevent a work stoppage in the first place, then it is too important to allow an American employer to hold the province's agricultural industry hostage," says McGowan.
"The beef industry in Alberta has been severely affected in recent years by both droughts and export restrictions due to mad cow disease and by the current high cost of energy. The last thing that Alberta ranchers and farmers need now is a work stoppage at the largest beef packing plant in Canada."
"I think this situation falls well within the definition of an emergency under Division 18 Section 110 (1.b) of the Labour Relations Code which would allow the Minister to impose a settlement recommended by Mr. Moreau on the two parties," says McGowan. "The procedures for imposing a settlement are also contained within Section 18 of the Code."
"The Minister has an unbiased set of recommendations from the mediator he appointed; he has a beef industry in crisis; and he has a company that has so far refused to provide a fair contract to Alberta workers. The workers, despite reservations about some of the recommendations in the report, have voted by 90% to accept it as a new collective agreement. Now it's up to Mike Cardinal to settle this dispute. He has the power to make the mediator's report binding - all he needs now is the will to make it happen," concludes McGowan.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell)