Lock­out ap­proaches 16 months

Pick­et­ing D-J Com­pos­ites em­ploy­ees con­front MHAs in Gan­der

The Beacon (Gander) - - News - Adam.ran­dell@gan­der­bea­con.ca

GAN­DER, NL – Locked-out D-J Com­pos­ites em­ploy­ees are call­ing for less talk and more ac­tion.

“We keep hear­ing you un­der­stand… but we need some­body to do some­thing,” said one pick­eter, con­fronting pro­vin­cial MHAs in Gan­der Tues­day af­ter­noon.

On Dec. 19, 2016, 32 em­ploy­ees were locked out by the Amer­i­can em­ployer af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with the bar­gain­ing unit for Uni­for Lo­cal 597 broke down.

There have been sev­eral at­tempts made to bring an end to the lock­out, but 16 months later, no res­o­lu­tion has been found.

As a re­sult, the pro­vin­cial labour board found D-J Com­pos­ites guilty of bar­gain­ing in bad faith.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Os­bourne and Gan­der MHA John Hag­gie were at­tend­ing a Gan­der and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce/Gan­der Ro­tary lun­cheon to dis­cuss the newly re­leased pro­vin­cial bud­get. Af­ter the meet­ing had ended, both briefly ad­dressed the pick­eters out­side.

While the labour dis­pute doesn’t fall within the fi­nance de­part­ment, Os­bourne com­mit­ted to rais­ing the mat­ter with the Lib­eral cau­cus.

“I’m not sure what can be done, but you guys need to get back to work,” he told the locked-out work­ers. “[D-J Com­pos­ites is] not a gov­ern­ment en­tity, so it’s dif­fi­cult.”

The words were of lit­tle con­so­la­tion to the pick­eters.

“The gov­ern­ment have got to lis­ten to our voice here on the line, 16 months into a lock­out, a com­pany that [has] been found guilty by our pro­vin­cial labour board twice, with no reper­cus­sions,” said Ig­natius Oram, chair at Uni­for Lo­cal 597.

“How of­ten do we go to the labour board to charge this com­pany with bad-faith bar­gain­ing, be­fore pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment re­al­izes that there’s noth­ing in the leg­is­la­tion to sup­port [us]? Some­thing needs to be done.”

Oram and the pick­eters are call­ing on the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion.

“Our union prefers to ne­go­ti­ate its own con­tracts, and I agree with that, but when you have a com­pany that re­fuses to ne­go­ti­ate at all, it’s time to make this a bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion case,” he said. “It’s the only way to solve this, but that’s up to our gov­ern­ment to make that hap­pen. It won’t be per­fect… but at the end of the day it will be some­thing that I feel both sides can live with to get back to work.”

ADAM RAN­DELL/THE BEA­CON

Gan­der MHA John Hag­gie speaks with Ig­natius Oram, one of the locked­out em­ploy­ees at D-J Com­pos­ites in Gan­der. The em­ploy­ees have been locked out for ap­prox­i­mately 16 months and are call­ing on the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion.

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