In response to the labour dispute at the Agropur cheese plant in Granby, Daniel Gobeil, President of Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, sent a letter to the employer and the union. This is its translated version.
Longueuil, July 22, 2022
Attention: Roger Massicotte, President of Agropur and
Daniel Chaput, President of the Agropur plant union in Granby
Subject: Les Producteurs de lait du Québec asks both parties to show diligence and commitment in their negotiations to prevent food waste and end the economic losses incurred by producers as a result of this dispute.
Dear Mr. Massicotte and Mr. Chaput,
Every day, Quebec’s dairy producers produce high quality milk to meet the needs of the market. This product is the fruit of our daily labour that begins over 24 months before the first litres of milk are produced by a cow. Provincial production must be planned several months in advance to ensure that plants will be supplied sufficiently to meet the demand. The strike that began on June 29 at the Agropur plant in Granby as the collective agreement was being renegotiated created shockwaves that unfortunately caused food to be wasted.
Les Producteurs de lait du Québec wasted no time in taking the necessary actions to curb the impacts. First, it asked for assistance from other plants in Quebec and Eastern Canada, from the Maritimes to Ontario. Donations were also made to food banks based on their capacity to receive food donations and the willingness of processors to process the milk for free. Since the quantities of milk associated with the plant closure are too large to be fully processed at other plants, we have no choice but to dispose of by-products from the processed dairy products to ensure that the maximum volume can be processed for the fat requirements in the market.
Using these tools, we were unable to place the entire volume in the early days of the conflict, which is why whole milk had to be dumped. Since July 4, our teams have been working to prevent whole milk from being dumped, but the situation is still quite precarious and risky. Producers, as a group, are losing revenue for whole milk or components with by-products. No program exists to cover these losses, which amount to several millions of dollars.
Since the beginning of the dispute, we have made it clear that the plant needs to maintain its minimum processing capacity to reduce the risks of food waste. We are now 24 days into the dispute; the time to act is now. Our demand is more than justified given the fact that the negotiations on a quick return to work failed this week and that you will start negotiating the collective agreement on Monday, July 25. Knowing that the supply situation continues to be precarious, our members and consumers are concerned about a prolonged dispute.
Les Producteurs de lait du Québec asks that you show diligence and commitment in these negotiations to prevent food waste and end the economic losses incurred by producers as a result of this conflict.
Mr. André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec
Mr. Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity
Mr. Émile Cordeau, CEO
Bernard Cournoyer, union advisor at the CSD
To download this letter in English: https://bit.ly/3S6It8r
To read the full version of the letter in French: https://bit.ly/3vbPo6y