Olymel employees work overtime shifts to catch up on backlog
June 1, 2020, St-Hyacinthe, Que. – More than 800 employees at three Olymel hog slaughterhouse and cutting plants in Quebec worked overtime shifts this past weekend to process animals and clear a backlog.
Shifts were added in Yamachiche (Mauricie), St-Esprit (Lanaudière), and Ange-Gardien (Montérégie) in order to reduce the number of hogs ready for slaughter and avoid euthanizing them.
Two dollars for each hog slaughtered is being donated to a charitable organization or cause chosen by the employees of each of the three establishments, up to a maximum of $5,000. Olymel is also providing three meals to charitable organizations for each employee that worked.
Because of shutdowns caused by lack of workers, the temporary closure of Olymel’s Yamachiche plant and the reduced capacity of other slaughterhouses, the number of hogs ready for slaughter had never been so high in Quebec, exceeding the 100,000-head mark.
The closure of many slaughterhouses in the U.S. also deprived Olymel of an outlet that would have allowed the company to deliver the surplus of hogs ready for slaughter in Quebec and Ontario to high-capacity American plants.
Several other employees from Olymel’s St-Hyacinthe plant and Agromex’s St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Sherrington plants lent a hand in the effort.
Over the past two months, at the peak of the current pandemic, Olymel was unable to gather the number of employees required for additional slaughter shifts as a result of absences related to either confirmed COVID-19 cases, preventive isolation of other employees, suspension of inter-regional transport or closure of schools.
After slowdowns and interruptions, Olymel’s hog slaughterhouse and cutting plants in Quebec have now regained more than 95 per cent of their slaughtering capacity.
Réjean Nadeau, president and CEO of Olymel, said adding extra shifts would have been impossible without the co-operation of company employees and their union representatives.
“I therefore commend the commitment of the CSD union at our Ange-Gardien plant in Montérégie, as well as that of the United Food and Commercial Workers, TUAC-Local 1991-P, at our plants in St-Esprit (Lanaudière) and Yamachiche (Mauricie).
“I am grateful that they not only agreed to add hours to their workload after already very busy weeks, but also that they have combined this exceptional effort with helping Les Moissons du Québec, families and people in need at a time when mutual assistance is as essential as the activities of the food supply chain.”
With annual sales of about $4 billion, Olymel Canada employs more than 14,000 people and has production and processing facilities across the country.