Canada Bread’s Langley bakers on picket line but not over dough

Canada Bread locked out its Langley bakers first thing Saturday morning.

The Canada Bread plant in Langley is behind a picket line after the company locked out its bakers’ union Saturday.

Of the approximately 200 people who work at the industrial bakery on the Langley Bypass, about 160 belong to Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco, Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 468. Canada Bread also locked out the union staff at its Laval, Que., distribution centre at the same time.

“Canada Bread values our associates and the work that they do. That is why we provide a compensation and benefit package that we believe is at or above market in the City of Langley for our industry,” the company said in a statement announcing the lockout.

Vice president Carl Fraser said negotiations have failed to result in a contract. The last contract expired in 2016 with both sides agreeing to a one-year extension to allow new management and other staff to settle in.

Fraser said the two sides are not far apart on the money but the problems are with contract wording and concessions. The offer would mean the loss of workplace rights fought for in decades past, he said.

“There’s not fairness and equality in this collective agreement,” he said. “It’s mean spirited.”

That includes such things as calling people in for as little as two hours of work, cutting hours with no warning which then impacts whether staff qualify for benefits, and more.

Glenda Brownie has worked at the facility for 27 years. She said there’s a marked difference in atmosphere since the new owners came in a couple of years ago.

“I believe that the company representatives started out with intentions of us being out there today,” she said.

In 2014, Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bakery firm, purchased Canada Bread, which has 4,200 staff at 18 manufacturing sites across Canada.

“Since Canada Bread joined Grupo Bimbo, the company has not moved one single sales, manufacturing or distribution job outside of Canada and have no plans to move jobs to Mexico,” the company statement said.

But Fraser said the corporate culture is a stumbling block.

PHOTO: Peter Sinclair, Glenda Brownie, Carl Fraser and Donna Quinton are some of the Local 468members walking the picket line outside Canada Bread’s Langley facility on April 1. (HeatherColpitts/Langley Advance)