July 15, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Olimel: Workers signed their transfer “under duress”.

Olimel: Workers signed their transfer "under duress".

Three months after the announcement of the closure of the Olymel plant in Valley-Junction, the countdown for foreign workers continues. While many foreign workers have already made the decision to leave the region, some decry the company’s lack of information.

Hans Jonathan Berard is one of 123 foreign workers at the Olimel plant in Valley Junction.

Of these, no fewer than 87 workers have already decided to join other Olimel plants in Quebec. For the natives of Mauritius, the reason is simple. Some workers are unaware of their real options before making the decision to leave their adopted region.

“There are people who have signed [leur transfert] Stress is under special stress. […] Some came back to see me to see if it was too late to cancel the contract they had signed,” says Hans Jonathan Berard.

By being recruited by Olimel, the workers accepted a work contract that bound them to the Valley-Junction plant, known as a closed contract. What some don’t know is that if they so desire, they have the option of signing a new contract to tie them to another company in the area. So they could avoid another move.

For the federal MP of Buis Richard Lehoux, the situation could be less in an area with more transparency on Olimel’s side. Especially since the unemployment rate is below 2%.

“As an employer, I understand that Olimel has paid the costs and time to bring in these workers, except for the company’s decision to close this plant! It is unfortunate that the workers are opposing themselves in this situation,” he said.

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However, the company believes that the workers made their decision after fully knowing the facts.

“That is our argument. We have taken steps to create awareness among the workers. […] We held several meetings where it was possible not only to meet with federal and provincial government officials but also to ask them questions,” says Paul Beauchamp, first vice president at Olimel.

The final shutdown of the Olimel Valley-Junction plant is scheduled for December 22.

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