class conflict clippings

CAW blockades auto parts company
Union fears plant will close owing workers money

july 1

CAW members from across southwestern Ontario are converging in Brantford and setting up a blockade around a Brantford automotive parts company.

“We’re here and we’re not leaving until we know that our members are going to get every dime they’re entitled to,” Steve Farkas, the CAW’s area director, said while standing in the parking lot by the loading docks of Meridian Automotive Services on Tuesday.

“We’ve got workers from Brantford, Woodstock, Kitchener already and we have more on the way,” he said.

The company makes a variety of plastic components for the auto industry. As well, it makes plastic ink bottles for Xerox. The plant remains open and CAW members employed by Meridian remain on the job.

However, there are fears the plant will close and when workers, represented by CAW 636 out of Woodstock, learned some Xerox equipment was about to be loaded onto a truck and moved out of the plant Tuesday, the call went out and CAW members from other locals began gathering at the Henry Street plant.

The blockade was prompted by fears about the future of Meridian in Brantford and the security of severance pay and other money that might be owing to the workers.

According to Farkas, Meridian Automotive is in the process of selling many of its assets, some of which will be sold to a company called Flex-N-Gate, a company in Tecumseh, Ontario, that makes bumper assemblies. However, Flex-N-Gate apparently isn’t interested in the Brantford facility, Farkas said.

CAW officials are worried that Meridian will file for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and in the process close the Brantford facility. If that happens, CAW officials are worried the money owned Canadian workers will be last on the list when it comes to paying off creditors.

The situation has made companies like Xerox nervous and anxious to get their equipment out of the Brantford plant.

CAW officials, meanwhile, are adamant that no equipment leave the plant until the situation is clarified and resolved.

The blockade will remain in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the issues are resolved, Farkas said.

Farmers blockade Musgraves centre in Kilcock

June 30

Hundreds of angry farmers have descended on Musgraves distribution centre in Kilcock, Co Kildare, today in protest at the prices they are being paid for their produce.

The IFA says supermarkets are forcing farmers to sell them milk, meat and vegetables below the cost of production in a move that is putting their livelihoods at risk.

Farmers have responded by blocking the entrance to the Musgraves centre, which distributes to Supervalu and Centra outlets around the country.

Arrests after PNG farmers riot

july 1
A clean up is under way in the Papua New Guinea town of Popondetta, after a rampage by disgruntled farmers. More than six thousand people are said to have been involved in the riot, that saw shops looted and the only bank in the town attacked.
Police reinforcements were drafted in, and more than 20 people were arrested.

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