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Employees of Gentek Building Products in London strike over ‘lack of respect’ from employer

Gentek Building Products on Col. Talbot Rd. in London, Ont.
Gentek Building Products on Col. Talbot Rd. in London, Ont. Google Maps

Employees of a local siding and window manufacturer hit the picket line over the weekend.

Around 150 unionized employees at Gentek Building Products on Colonel Talbot Road went on strike after midnight Friday over what they are calling a lack of respect from the company.

Unifor Local 27 president Jim Reid tells AM980 the issues date back over the last three years.

“We live by a set of rules that we negotiated in a collective agreement, and sometimes those rules are stretched and abused, and assurances are given, and assurances are broken by the employer,” he said.

Reid said the company is targeting senior employees.

“They’re laying off senior people and keeping junior people and calling that an emergency because the collective agreement allows for that to be done in emergency situations, where with this employer everything is an emergency,” he said.

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Gentek has offered a two per cent annual wage increase over the next three years, but Reid says respect is the main concern.

He also said employees are being forced to work overtime without notice, and they have concerns over the treatment of disabled workers.

Phillippe Bourbonniere, vice president for sales and distribution at Gentek Canada, would not address union allegations but did note that window manufacturing is a seasonal business and the facility has been experiencing a lot of growth.

“Not a single window is the same so we always have to adjust our production according to the demand that we get,” he explained.

“Our business is very seasonal as you might expect. Summer being a high season there’s always a big influx of demand for our product, so we have to adjust accordingly with our production line.”

Bourbonniere added that they are doing their best to manage customer expectations.

“Without customers the situation would not even be relevant so we’re going to make sure that we serve our customers well. We’re hopeful we can come to an agreement pretty quick so we can go back to normal business.”

With files from Jacquelyn LeBel.

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