NB Poultry Companies Told to End Dispute

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA - The province's agriculture minister is urging Nadeau Maple Lodge and Groupe Westco to resolve their dispute.
calendar icon 1 February 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

New Brunswick's agriculture minister is calling on two poultry companies involved in an ongoing dispute to "sit down and negotiate a long-term solution."

According to Telegraph-Journal, Ronald Ouellette said in a statement Friday that Nadeau Maple Lodge and Groupe Westco must do "the responsible thing and resolve this commercial dispute that is disregarding the needs of the workers."

He said the province will not intervene any further in the process.

Earlier this month, the Liberal government issued a temporary order that says chickens raised in New Brunswick must be processed in the province.

The province decided to issue the order, an amendment to the Natural Products Act proclaimed earlier this month, because Ontario and Quebec recently put limits on exports of chicken from those provinces.

"The legislation and my order were put in place as short-term measures to protect the workers from the current instability of the chicken processing industry in Canada, and provide the impetus for the two companies to sit down and negotiate a long-term solution," Mr Ouellette said in the statement.

"This requires both companies to come together and, through negotiation, arrive at an acceptable agreement. This has yet to happen and, until such time as it does, government will not further intervene."

Last week, Nadeau rejected a Groupe Westco business proposal, presented to comply with the provincial order, that would see Nadeau process Westco's chicken.

Westco is asking that the chickens are returned to Westco once they have been processed to be marketed and sold by it through its partner company, Quebec-based Sunnymel.

But Nadeau wants Westco to cede ownership of its birds so that Nadeau can sell them itself after slaughtering and processing are completed, according to a statement released by Westco on Wednesday.

Both Nadeau and Westco have plants in Saint-François-de-Madawaska, near Edmundston.

Last year, Nadeau was forced to lay off 175 of its 352 employees at its New Brunswick plant when Westco, which was once a partner with the company, started sending its chickens to a Quebec-based plant, according to Telegraph-Journal.

The company had previously accounted for about 80 per cent of Nadeau's chicken supply, equal to between 140,000 to 200,000 chickens per week.

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