Hamilton

Workers at National Rubber Technologies in Ancaster picket to demand better wages and benefits

A group of workers at National Rubber Technologies Corp. have threatened to step up protest action until the company provides an acceptable wage and benefits package.

Workers have been locked out since July 1, United Steelworkers staff representative Tricia Watt says

National Rubber Technologies Corp. employees staged a picket at Tomlinson Systems, Inc. in Ancaster — a trucking company the workers say is operated by one of the decision makers at NRT. (Submitted by Thomas De Sousa)

A group of workers at National Rubber Technologies Corp. have threatened to step up protest action until the company provides an acceptable wage and benefits package.

Last Thursday morning, more than 20 employees staged a picket at Tomlinson Systems, Inc. in Ancaster — a trucking company the workers say is operated by one of the decision makers at NRT.

United Steelworkers staff representative Tricia Watt said after months of bargaining, the employers presented a final offer, but when the union presented it to the membership for a ratification vote on June 20, 85 per cent of members voted against it.

"The collective agreement has an enhanced severance package — their final offer removed that package," Watt told CBC Hamilton.

"They changed the vacation process so that instead of getting your vacation pay real time, you get a percentage biweekly, and that way when you take vacation you would not be paid for that time because they would have already paid you, I guess on a biweekly basis."

The workers have been locked out since July 1, but the union says they are willing to go back to the bargaining table at any time. (Submitted by Thomas De Sousa)

Watt said the workers want to be paid their vacation pay at the time they go on holiday.

According to Watt, another sticking point for the workers is one they deem to be a health and safety and human rights issue. NRT has proposed a plan where there would be incentive-based pay for attendance.

"So the way that would work is if two people work side-by-side, each making $10 an hour, they proposed a very minimal increase to everybody," she said. 

"But if one person is able to come to work every day for a month, you would get an additional hour increase and the person who was away because of sickness would not get that additional per-hour increase.

"So in other words, if you have perfect attendance, if you have no health issues, you would be making more per hour on a regular basis than the person beside you,and the only reason why is because they are sick and can't have a perfect attendance," Watt said.

Watt said the workers have been locked out since July 1, but the union has always made it clear they are willing to go back to the bargaining table at any time.

The union also held a rally today at NRT's headquarters at in Toronto. 

National Rubber Technologies Corp. has not responded to calls from CBC News.

now