Famous Toronto chocolate factory in turmoil after workers go on strike
More than 470 workers at Toronto's famous Nestlé manufacturing plant are on strike following a breakdown of contract negotiations between Unifor Local 252 (the workers' union) and the chocolate company this past weekend.
The workers, who manufacture some of Canada's most popular chocolate bars including Kit Kat, Aero, Coffee Crisp and Smarties, have been in a legal strike position since midnight on April 30 after attempting to get the company to agree to make contract workers permanent and to better pension contributions.
"It's a sad state of affairs," President of Unifor Local 252 Eamonn Clarke said in a statement.
"We've opened the door to precarious work and the company has taken advantage of it, using it to line their own pockets, make more profits and they don't want to share anything with the workers."
According to Unifor Local 252, Canada's largest union in the private sector, the chocolate company agreed to make roughly 80 contract workers permanent a few contracts ago and to move ten more workers to P1 status every year, which would make them permanent and entitled to benefits.
But many temporary workers at Nestlé haven't been getting more than 1,000 hours of work a year for more than two years, and the company said it would only move temporary workers to full-time status when they reach 8,000 hours.
The union says this is an impossible feat for many, especially those who have family obligations.
"Full-time work should mean a full-time job," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in a statement. "Precarious work, and specifically the use of temporary workers in a permanent full-time capacity, is a growing problem. The gig economy, especially during the pandemic, has shown that Nestlé should be ashamed."
In a statement sent to blogTO, Nestlé said it was "disappointed with the union's decision" to strike as the company believes it has presented a fair and equitable offer.
"We look forward to reaching a resolution and having our employees return to work," reads the statement.
And while there are currently no scheduled dates for negotiations to resume, Local 252 says it is prepared to return to the table anytime.
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