Labor federation, IBB step up assistance
THREE EMPLOYEES AT Lehigh Cement Ltd.’s Regina Cement Terminal, locked out since Jan. 21, are about to get a helping hand from Saskatchewan’s largest labor organization.
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) are teaming up for a solidarity picket, to take place April 24 at the company’s facility on Victoria Plains, Fleet Street North, Regina, Saskatchewan, at 10:00 a.m.
“This is a real David and Goliath story,” commented IBB International Vice President Joseph Maloney. “We have three people standing up to the might of an international conglomerate which refuses to negotiate fairly.”
The three employees, represented by Boilermakers Local D359 (Edmonton, Alberta), package and distribute powdered cement shipped from a company facility in Edmonton.
A key issue in the dispute is the company’s demand that employees work Sundays without overtime or bonuses. A management negotiator agreed to terms three times but later reneged and came back to the table with more demands for employee concessions.
“It’s a common practice in American negotiations,” says Maloney. “You get what you think is an agreement and the company comes back with new demands. They’re constantly moving the goal posts.”
The IBB has filed charges of unfair labor practices against the company with the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board. But the Board says it is unable to hold a hearing until June, the first date at which the management negotiator says he is available.
“Given that the same negotiator was constantly pressuring our representatives for immediate meetings before the company unilaterally left the table and declared their lockout, I find it difficult to believe he is now not available until late June,” said Maloney. “The Labour Board needs to use its authority to force this company to negotiate in good faith.”
Lehigh is a subsidiary of the giant Heidelberg Cement Group, based in Germany.
Boilermakers can show their support by signing a brief petition.