Labatt strike settlement worth it, NAPE says
Almost four dozen workers at the Labatt brewery near downtown St. John's will start returning to work Tuesday, ending a strike that dragged on for almost 11 months.
NAPE — the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees — has lifted a boycott against Labatt products, a move it started last June to put pressure on the brewery over a strike involving 45 employees.
Labatt and NAPE announced Saturday that the walkout, which started March 25, had been resolved with undisclosed wage increases over the seven years of the contract, which expires in 2020.
"It's been a long strike, by any measure, and a difficult strike for our members," said NAPE secretary-treasurer Bert Blundon.
"Obviously it's not nice standing on that hill in the middle of the winter, trying to defend your rights in the collective agreement."
NAPE maintains that its boycott of Labatt products was effective, although the company disputes that claim.
"Our sales remained strong during the strike," Wade Keller, Labatt's director of corporate affairs for Atlantic Canada, said in a statement. Labatt used replacement workers to keep the brewery operating.
Neither Labatt nor NAPE disclosed details of the new agreement, although each said they achieved something they wanted.
"We have said since the beginning we were seeking a contract similar to those in other breweries in Canada," Keller said. "This has been achieved in this contract."
"[The retirement offer is] probably one of the more lucrative ones that I've seen since I've been at this work and what it meant is that some people could exit the workplace," he said in an interview.
"Our younger members then would enjoy many more opportunities for work and obviously enhance their ability then to bring home a full paycheque every week. So that was kind of what helped break the log-jam in the end," said Blundon.
The NAPE members will undergo a safety orientation before resuming their normal duties at the Leslie Street plant.