With closure of the apple packing line at Kelowna, the new B.C. Tree Fruits Co-operative agreement with members of local 247 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union was opened a year early to negotiate language to deal with the changed workplace.
Bob Fisher-Fleming, human relations manager for the co-op, said the permanent layoffs affected about 60 people and were based strictly on seniority, which included other co-lop- lists and plants in the valley.
The newly-updated Winfield plant took 27 of the Kelowna workers while the rest went south in the valley.
Although there was no wage increase in the seven-year contract, there are four signing bonuses over that period of time in the new contract, he said.
“It’s all about competition. We’re in a very competitive position. People working in the U.S. or elsewhere in the valley are getting half the wage that our employees are.”