It has been eighteen days since the members of Lantic Inc, Rogers Sugar, walked off the job and started picketing in front of Rogers Sugar and surrounding areas. We have been overwhelmed by the support we are receiving from other unions as well as from the general public.
When the union met with the membership, we shared the Company’s global proposal which clearly stated: it was a take all of it or none of it. While the Company has started its own “X” page and asked the membership to reach out to them to discuss the Company’s proposal through direct messaging, the membership remains strong.
Clearly, asking the membership to direct message management to go over bargaining items is a way to divide the membership. Nothing the union has done, or told the membership, has been fabricated. We are speaking the truth. We have asked Rogers Sugar, repeatedly, to hire more people, and are told “We cannot do that. We have a maximum headcount of 145 employees.” This headcount also includes people that are off on weekly indemnity. Now, if they can have 24-hour-a-day production, 7 days a week, working 12-hour shifts, they will hire more. This seems like a strong-arm tactic.
Rogers Sugar is predicting a shortfall of sugar for the next several years. In Montreal, they are building a brand new building, with new equipment, to get the extra production that is needed. That is coming at a cost of $280 million. Rogers Sugar wants the same amount of production to be generated in Vancouver, with old equipment and hiring more people, but is prepared to invest $9 million this year, for maintenance.
Running 168 hours per week is the only way they will hire more people? Continuous shifting and 12-hour shifts do not make for a work/life balance. Rogers preaches that our members will get to spend more time with their families, but they are working an extra 104 hours per year with what was proposed.
After explaining this to our membership, and even before through our survey asking what the members would like out of the next Collective Agreement, the continuous shifting was an item where there would be no concession on. This was told to Rogers Sugar multiple times. Clearly, it doesn’t matter to them.
Eighteen days and still nothing from the Company about getting back to the bargaining table. It is clear what is important.