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Cargill and Union Meeting with Strike/Lockout Looming

The union representing Cargill workers at the High River area plant is still preparing for a strike while also meeting Tuesday with the company for contract talks.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union is claiming the company is securing a large number of buses, the union says, to bring outside workers into the plant to keep it running if employees do walk out.

The union also says Cargill is erecting fences around the plant to limit access to its facilities.

Here is a statement released by Cargill:

"Last week, we provided the Union with lockout notice for December 6, 12:01 which aligns to the strike notice deadline we were previously served. We have been in contact with the Union bargaining committee and are meeting today, November 30, 2021 to keep talks moving forward. The union’s claims regarding busses are not accurate. The busses are to ensure we can bring our plant management team in to the plant safely if necessary. We remain determined and hopeful that we can reach an agreement during this period."

They fear meddling by the Alberta government, to stop a strike since it's said in the past Cargill is considered an essential service.

Premier Kenney hopes the two sides can come to an agreement.

"That's a unionized workplace and the union has certain rights under Alberta labour legislation which we respect while at the same time we very much hope that the union and employer will come to an agreement because the closure of that facility would have a devastating impact on the broader Alberta beef industry, which has already had a super tough year with the dry weather and huge inflation in feed costs," the premier says.

"As you know many Alberta ranchers, I think overall, they had to liquidate about 20 per cent of the provincial herd which is very substantial, because of the feed cost inflation and that means more cattle are in the system waiting to be processed at feedlots, and we're also seeing increased food inflation so the ability for families to be able to afford groceries could be affected as well."

He says the ministry of labour is always willing to provide any support needed if called on by the union and Cargill.

The deadline for a deal is December 6, 2021.

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