PRESS RELEASE: JULY 20, 2005

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Strike delayed for at least 60 days at Lakeside Packers in Brooks, Alta.

Some workers at the Lakeside Packers plants are angry that the provincial government has stepped in and stopped strike action planned for Wednesday morning.

About 2,000 employees were set to walk off the job at 5 a.m., to back their efforts to get a first contract from the company. About 200 still showed up at the Brooks plant in the early morning hours, and at one point tried to block a truck from entering, before union officials intervened.

Tuesday afternoon, the province said it would set up a disputes inquiry board to help management and the United Food and Commercial Workers reach a deal. The move makes any strike action illegal for the next 60 days.

As well, any recommendations the dispute panel makes aren't binding unless both sides agree on them.

"It's not good enough for them," UFCW local president Doug O'Halloran said of the employees, adding union supporters are worried they'll be fired before any deal is in place. O'Halloran says the workers are upset with the government and the union  the decision came later on Tuesday afternoon and many weren't aware the strike wasn't proceeding.

He said they felt blindsided by the province's move, because they had requested binding arbitration.

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