Union Supports Members During Layoffs at Olymel, Calls on Government to Act

Red Deer Advocate reports on our call for government support.

UFCW Local 401 is calling on government to support Olymel workers impacted by announced layoffs in the wake of the affordability crisis.

Local 401 has been in constant contact with its members at the Plant since the Company announced layoffs, working to answer questions and provide support for its members and their families already struggling with the cost of living.

Our union has also been in regular communications with Olymel to examine ways to minimize the impacts of layoffs and to ensure no contract provisions or laws have been breached.

Acknowledging that industry slowdown plays a role in the challenges facing the pork processing plant, UFCW Local 401 is calling on the provincial government to step up and provide relief for workers in the sluggish industry.

Support to save the affected jobs would not require a substantial investment from government.

“Workers are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global affordability crisis. No one wants to contemplate unemployment for any amount of time on top of that,” said UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse.

“While we understand that Olymel expects these adjustments will be temporary and remains confident about the future viability of the Plant, our union believes it is time for the provincial government to step up and provide tangible relief for food workers and their families,” added Hesse.

Red Deer food banks have seen a 68% increase in demand for emergency food hampers in recent years. That increase is not surprising given the pressures that working families face with skyrocketing grocery bills as Canadian grocers like Loblaws and Sobeys continue to post elevated sales and revenues.

While UFCW Local 401 is assisting impacted workers with processing unemployment insurance claims and finding other means of support during this trying time, any period of temporary unemployment is difficult with the cost of living at forty-year highs.

“As the union representing tens of thousands of workers in Alberta, we’ve seen the impacts of this affordability crisis all over,” added President Hesse. “Working people are looking for help to stop the squeeze of inflation.”  

“It’s time for the Government of Alberta to provide that help by coming to the assistance of Olymel workers whose jobs are impacted by layoffs,” concluded Hesse. 

UFCW Local 401 calls on Olymel to be transparent during this period so that all affected parties can work together toward a common goal of recovery as quickly as possible.