The 250 Agropur employees in Granby have been on strike since June 29.
While thousands of liters of milk had to be thrown away because of the labor dispute at the Agropur plant in Granby, both parties say they are sorry of the situation.
The employer says it is doing everything to prevent more milk from being wasted, while the union criticizes Agropur for not being prepared to the situation and to seek to make union members bear the odious waste.
The 250 workers, members of a Central of Democratic Trade Unions (CSD) union, went on an indefinite strike on June 29, after voting 100% in favor of the strike mandate.
In an interview on Monday, Bernard Cournoyer, union adviser at the CSD, said that the employer's desire to significantly modify the schedules ignited the powder and triggered the strike.
He reports that the employer would like in particular to extend the working days from 8 to 12 hours during the week and to have employees return to work at different times, depending on the days of the week and the needs of the company. .
Since 1983, they have had these working hours. And there, the employer wants employees to be flexible about starting and ending shifts, i.e. one morning you can start at 7 a.m., the next day , the employer can say "you come home at 8 o'clock" and the day after tomorrow it could be at 9 a.m. It completely disrupts family life, protested Mr. Cournoyer.
And this reorganization of schedules would result in the elimination of 30 positions, says the union adviser. It's the sinews of war, he launched.
The union representative states that the employer has made 158 demands affecting 32 of the 33 articles of the collective agreement. He assures that the salary issue has not even been addressed yet. According to him, the working climate is not good either and there are now 450 to 500 grievances.
When asked about this, the management of the company Agropur did not want to go into the details of the negotiations, nor of the union's assertions, nor of its demands addressed to the workers concerning the collective agreement.
She says she does not want to negotiate in the media. We prefer to negotiate at the bargaining table and reach a settlement with the union, said Mylène Dupéré, vice-president of corporate communications at Agropur.
However, she admitted that the management was looking for some flexibility from the workers to be able to process more milk when there is more need for it. She explains that Agropur wants to make major investments in this plant and that the company has a vision for her.
She specified that the Granby plant processes 800,000 liters of milk per day, which makes it a major player in the industry.
When asked about the thousands of liters of milk that had to be thrown away because of the labor dispute, she says every effort is being made to minimize waste, such as trying to redirect milk to other factories.
Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, the organization that negotiates for producers, estimated that the total amount of milk disposed of since the outbreak of the dispute at Agropur was two million litres.
On the union side, Mr. Cournoyer said he was as sorry as the milk producers to see such waste. That Agropur wasn't prepared for that doesn't enter my mind. When there's a four- or five-day shutdown for machine maintenance, she prepares, he argues. He criticizes the company for having wanted to put the blame on the union members.