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Food fight

ETOBICOKE, Ont. - On Sept. 30, members of the Teamsters union slowed things down at the Ontario Food Terminal in Etobicoke.The labor dispute, between management and company workers for Provincial Frui...


ETOBICOKE, Ont. – On Sept. 30, members of the Teamsters union slowed things down at the Ontario Food Terminal in Etobicoke.

The labor dispute, between management and company workers for Provincial Fruit Co. Ltd. and Rite-Pak Produce Co. Ltd. culminated Sept. 28 with a lockout.

The effects might be felt at local supermarkets as the picketers are preventing or slowing the usual shipments of produce to many area grocery stores.

Employees are fighting for time off, improved wages and benefits, and Brian Lawrence, the vice-president of Teamsters’ local 419, says the working conditions for Provincial and Rite-Pak are sub par compared to the other three companies working at the terminal.

“The other companies have better pensions, hours and working conditions than we do. We don’t want to be on strike, but the company forced us to be here, we’d rather be working and negotiating,” he says.

Although the terminal was jammed with traffic and trucks attempting to make their deliveries, union strikers say the truckers have generally been supportive.

“Our usual customers have been great, they know the situation and they respect us. You get the odd one who thinks we’re trying to hurt him, but we’re not, we’re fighting for our own rights,” says Rite-Pak union steward, Alan Janossy.

Lawrence says they aren’t there with the purpose of interrupting the trucker’s lives, they just want everyone to know that there is a problem there.

He adds management had planned for the strike even before the vote.

He went on to say they told non-union sales team members to take the week off work, and the warehouses have been cleared out.

“We asked for two consecutive days off during the week in order to spend more time at home with our families, but they said ‘no’, and now we’re out here,” says Lawrence.

With Thanksgiving come and gone, it’s a busy time at the food terminal, and both workers say they just want to get back to work and get things flowing again.

“I figure we’ll be out here for at least a week. Anything can happen but the idea is to get back to work with a fair and decent contract,” Janossy adds.

Provincial Fruit and Rite-Pak Produce management members were not available for comment.


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