Lockout approaches 16 months
Picketing D-J Composites employees confront MHAs in Gander
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.”
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.