May 20, 2004



Canada's Ontario Pork Prepares In Case Of Maple Leaf Strike

Canada's Ontario Pork, which represents Ontario hog producers, is putting together contingency plans for hog outlets in case of a strike at Maple Leaf Foods' Burlington, Ontario, slaughter facility, Ontario Pork officials said.
The Burlington facility has a slaughter capacity of 45,000 hogs per week and has been receiving in the area of 40,000 hogs a week, said Andrew Marks, director of sales and logistics at Ontario Pork.
Contract negotiations between Maple Leaf Foods and its 1,100 employees at the Burlington plant were ongoing Tuesday, with no word available on the negotiation process.
"We've been told the strike could occur as early as this Monday (May 24)," Marks said.
Marks said negotiations were ongoing with customers in the U.S., Quebec and Ontario to absorb the extra supply of live hogs that would result from a strike.
"We are obviously sensitive to sending any extra hogs to the U.S. at this time because of the U.S. Commerce Department investigation on whether Canada has injured U.S. hog producers," Marks said. "Based on some of the discussions with our clients, it appears that of the 40,000 hogs that would become available, roughly 60% would be absorbed by Quebec, while the other 40% would likely end up going to U.S. clients."
Marks said efforts were under way to reduce the amount of hogs that would make their way to the U.S. by trying to absorb some into the Ontario market.
"The easy solution to this would be if they came to an agreement today," Marks said.
Spokeswoman Cheryl Mumsford of the United Food and Commercial Workers union confirmed early Tuesday that talks between the workers and the pork processor were ongoing and that workers were in a strike position should the discussions not result in a new collective agreement.
Negotiations have been ongoing since mid-February.
Officials from Maple Leaf Foods could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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