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HIGH RIVER, Alberta. – The threat of a strike at an Alberta beef processing plant has been ruled out after workers accepted the owner’s latest offer.

The union which represents about 2,000 workers at the Cargill beef plant in High River says its members voted 71 percent in favor of accepting the company’s contract.

In a statement, Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said the contract was “the best of its kind and presented unprecedented gains in this time of economic and political uncertainty.” .

He also says he was hit “during the biggest health crisis the world has ever known”.

Jarrod Gillig, president of commercial operations and supply chain for Cargill’s North American protein business, said the deal was “comprehensive” and “fair”, adding that it reflected “the commitment towards excellence ”of their employees.

A spokesperson for the company previously said the deal offered a six-year collective agreement that includes retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21% pay rise over the term of the contract, and employee benefits. improved health.

“As an organization that leads with our value to put people first, we truly believe this ratification is in the best interests of our employees and we look forward to moving forward to build a stronger future – together, “Gillig said in a statement on Saturday.

Workers voted 98 percent last month against Cargill’s previous offer, and the union had said workers would strike if a contract deal couldn’t be reached.

Cargill and the union had been at odds for some time on issues related to wages as well as health and safety.

In May 2020, Cargill’s High River plant was the site of a major workplace COVID-19 outbreak. More than 900 workers have tested positive for the virus and three deaths were linked to the outbreak.

“A victory has been achieved and it is a day to celebrate,” said a statement from UFCW Local 401, which recommended acceptance of the contract offer.

“The injustices at Cargill, however, are not fixed by contract. Local 401 and its activists are looking to the future to uphold the new rights of Cargill workers in this unprecedented collective agreement.

The deal also grants workers a $ 1,000 signing bonus and a $ 1,000 “COVID-19 bonus,” the union said earlier.

The union’s statement said it had made extensive preparations for a strike. He said tents were erected in front of the factory, floodlights and propane heaters were installed, neighboring fields were leveled so that hundreds of workers could park, and a payroll picket system was nearing completion. .

The release also said that in Brooks, Alta., 2,500 employees who process beef at the JBS plant are closely monitoring Cargill’s precedent. In the new year, the union said it would start negotiations for a new contract.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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