Source: Unifor/Facebook

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has issued an injunction against striking workers at the Fresh Del Monte distribution centre in Oshawa. 

The labour movement must unite behind the workers on the picket lines to fight this attack.

Workers reject pay cuts and precarious work

The 71 workers voted 75 per cent in favour of  strike action on Jan. 12, after rejecting an insulting five cent “wage increase” from management—both Del Monte and its contractor, SwipeJobs.

Most of the workers at the facility are migrant workers, hired by a third-party based in the U.S. The company pays them minimum wage, with no  benefits and little job security. 

As Unifor Local 222 President Jeff Gray explains: “They are being preyed upon by a corporation that refuses to pay them a fair wage and refuses to supply them with benefits. Their predatory practices continue to disadvantage these people to the point where they are living in poverty.”

Del Monte also has a long record of mistreating its workers. 

The workers secured their certification vote back in 2020, after the Ontario Labour Relations Board found the company illegally fired two workers in the plant, for union activity. After the ruling, the workers voted 94 per cent to join the union. And, that October, they ratified their first collective agreement. 

Abroad, Del Monte’s record is much the same.

In 2013, the company was ordered to pay out $1.2 million in Hawaii for confiscating the passports of Thai migrant workers and stealing their pay. 

In Kenya, the company is also currently under investigation after five workers were killed by its security guards at a massive pineapple plantation.

Weakness invites aggression

In the face of a company like Del Monte, workers need a resolute leadership. Weakness, as always, only invites aggression.

And, unfortunately, we’ve seen this play out. The union leadership was originally demanding $20 an hour alongside three paid sick days and other benefits. But, in the negotiations, the union leadership conceded, they dropped their demand to—“just basically wages.” 

But this has only emboldened management.

Just a few weeks ago, management launched another attack—seeking an injunction to stop the workers’ from picketing. 

On Jan. 17 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the injunction—on the grounds that “Del Monte’s inability to complete existing orders will cause losses.”

In other words, the courts have granted an injunction due to the irreparable harm the strike will cause to the bosses wallets. What of the irreparable physical harm caused to workers with no paid sick days? 

This is an attack which the labour movement must come together to fight. Taking down the blockades would be seen as a sign of weakness that would only invite further aggression from management. Only by standing firm in the face of attacks from the bosses and their state can the workers see victory in this strike.

The longer the picket, the shorter the strike!

Solidarity with Unifor Local 222!

The workers united will never be defeated!