Purity workers locked out

Tara Bradbury
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Wages, sick leave reported to be issues

Purity workers are on the picket lines this week after being locked out.

Purity Factories workers took to the picket lines on Blackmarsh Road Friday morning, saying management had locked them out.

Last week, negotiations for a new labour contract at the well-known sweets factory broke off in a dispute over wages and sick leave. The 52 employees at the factory are represented by the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).

NAPE local 7013 president Carol Smith said the workers arrived at the factory as usual Friday morning, to find the doors locked and no management inside. All they were told, she said, was the lock-out was due to “safety reasons.”

“I don’t know what that means, unless they think we’re planning on doing some damage to the product or something, but we would never do that,” Smith said.

“That’s our livelihood, and our families eat that product. We would never do something like that.”

Smith said many of the workers weren’t surprised to find themselves locked out, since they had been told earlier in the week to “get their product finished and clean everything up.”

Thursday evening, the workers voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike, Smith said.

She said the workers asked for a wage increase of $1 over three years.

However, what the company came back with was unacceptable, Smith said.

“They wanted a five-year plan, with a 30-cent increase in (each of) the first three years, then 35 cents in each of the last two,” she said.

Smith said there’s also an issue with sick leave, specifically the amount of detailed information the company is requiring on doctor’s notes.

A message on the answering machine at Purity Factories said the office was closed Friday.

A message left by The Telegram asking for a comment on the situation wasn’t returned.

Smith said the workers will continue to show up for their shifts at the factory until they’re told otherwise.

Purity is a longtime producer of cookies, candy, syrups and hard bread.


Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees

Geographic location: Blackmarsh Road

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Recent comments

  • Canada is better off without manfacturing and blue collar jobs
    February 11, 2012 - 11:28

    Not satisfied Doug said "Purity has been around for years and so have some of the workers in there. Some grew with this Company just as there houses, families and friends. It’s not the greed of the unions…it’s the greed of Purity Factories. It’s ok for office staff to be making upwards to 21$ per hour but the ones that produce the product, stand day in/out on that line (In dead heat some days) to make sure that we all get our fresh product-don’t." ............................In case you missed the turn of the century, let me inform you that the work done in the office, the white collar workers are educated and important, and the factory workers are unskilled workers. It not that the company cannot afford to pay the unskilled more, but rather is that it is not worth it. Why give an unskilled worker a wage increase when you can find one to do the work for less. As a business owner, that is what I do. Also think about the future generations....we don't wnat unskilled work, we don't want factory jobs...as you you say, the workers "stand day in/out on that line (In dead heat some days")...you think we want that job, you think I want that job for my kid....Most if not all of the future generation would love to see the factory offshored and the 52 jobs eliminated if it would create 1 job for someone to import the chocolate form another country. I hope the company is considering this. We need to start aspiring to be a country where blue collar, unskilled labour intesnive work is not part of the middle class. Make no mistake, we need a middle class, but a middle class composed of highly skilled and educated workers, not unskilled educated worker who do labour intensive work..Hopefully automation will replace blue collar work as time progresses. Anyway, you can agree or disagree, but if the company makes concessions to the unskilled workers, then I will boycott the product. There is plently of chocolate to import from aborad...what is most important to me is the MY money does not support the blue collared unskilled middle class..by the way, chocolate from England tastes much better.

  • Jam Jams Daughter
    September 07, 2010 - 11:58

    For those concerned about the wages of these people. Take into consideration the fact that the individuals that have worked there for over 20 years have had less then a $4.00 increase per hour in their wages since they where hired. If you would like stats Signal Hill, that is 1040 weeks these individuals have worked, 41, 600 hours. Minimum wage since 1990 has increased almost $5.00 per hour. Fighting for $1.00 seems very reasonable to those individuals, and should sound very reasonable to the public and Purity Factories. Stop the Nape bashing folks, and support people for standing up for what they deserve.

  • Supporting the workers
    September 07, 2010 - 10:36

    To Court Reporter Purity factories should be thankful that they have the workers they have too. !!!! It is not that easy now a days to get anyone in to work for you without them either calling in sick, working at their own pace. They want a certain amount of money an hour or they will not work.You obviously are not out in the work place as it seems there is alot that do not want to work they just want the paycheck!!!! The workers at Purtiy have very good work ethics they show up to work , do their jobs and with pride I might add and a lot of them have been there 20 plus years and still are dedicated and take pride in the products they do each and every day. So asking for a wage increase is not greed it is appreciation to your employees for the dedication and pride they put in to putting out Purity products .

  • Not satisfied Doug
    September 07, 2010 - 09:34

    Purity has been around for years and so have some of the workers in there. Some grew with this Company just as there houses, families and friends. It’s not the greed of the unions…it’s the greed of Purity Factories. It’s ok for office staff to be making upwards to 21$ per hour but the ones that produce the product, stand day in/out on that line (In dead heat some days) to make sure that we all get our fresh product-don’t. “That lovely smell coming from the windows of Purity Factories DON’T come from the office, that’s for sure”

  • Chantal
    September 07, 2010 - 08:01

    Union Greed? A wonderful but meaningless charge, like “union bosses” brought out by anti-worker types. Unions themselves do not benefit monetarily from any improved wages or working conditions it wins for its members any more than a doctor's health improves if her patient takes the medication she prescribes. Like Ref says, if unions were disbanded, there would be NO ONE there to counter attacks on pensions, health and safety regulations, holidays, and other benefits the (greedy) unions have won for every worker – organized or not. Oh, by the way, aren't COURT REPORTERS covered under the NAPE agreement?

  • reef21
    September 06, 2010 - 15:52

    badameli Over the past 5 year contract, wages increased by about $1.40. While the price of homes in this city effectively doubled.

  • reef21
    September 06, 2010 - 15:50

    JACK: Be well assured that the increase demanded by the workers DOES NOT represent 5-10% of Purity's revenues. The numbers bandied about here and elsewhere may well be accurate but the terms are not. And why is it the sole fault of the worker if prices go up? If the worker gets a fair share of the profits derived from his/her sweat, why MUST the owner raise prices? To ensure that his fat return is guaranteed to him, that is why. He MUST get whatever amount he got last year or better, that is the reason. After all the biscuits are sold and bills paid, there is X amount dollars left on the table. If the worker fights and gets 1 penny more, the owner raises prices by that same penny. In order to GUARANTEE he gets the same amount of X dollars that he got last year. After which he will continue to cut corners/quality/safety to find ways so that next year his return will be EVEN MORE. So, don't leave all blame at the feet of the worker when your crackers cost more down the road; the other party in this dispute CAN also make concessions to ensure everyone gets fair treatment.

  • reef21
    September 05, 2010 - 15:03

    COURT REPORTER I hope your professional writing doesn't rely on or regularly utilize hackneyed cliches like "these economic times". Nevermind the fact that the city's economy has never been as hot with demand for workers at an all-time high. Unions are responsible for just about every benefit you, I and every worker now take for granted. Cities with strong union representation are always among those with the highest standard of living for workers. So before stating that they are no longer relevant, consider the backlash of companies and therefore industry as a whole would be against wages, benefits and treatment of workers should anti-union begrudgers wishes of a union devoid economy, come true. Without the threat of organized labour, companies most certainly will lobby for and reverse long standing laws and statutes dictating work hours, safety, severance, statutory holidays etc. (They continually lobby government to do just that today).Workers will be forced to accept poverty level wages to work inhumane hours in unsafe conditions, then be replaced when they can no longer meet unreasonable quotas or become injured. So, this LONG WEEKEND, after your 40 HOUR WORK WEEK, before returning to your (at least MINIMUM WAGE) job which, relax and think of the real benefits we all CONTINUE to enjoy thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of unions And instead of wanting organized workers who stand up for themselves (and put jobs and personal safety on the line), to be dragged down to your pay level, why not try to organize your workplace to fight for the benefits and fair wages you think you deserve. Trust me, you will feel much better about yourself than you do taking potshots at people with who actually have the courage to stand up for themselves.

    • jerry dunford
      September 06, 2010 - 23:09

      I agree with Reef21. If it were not for unions, we would all be working in sweat shops. This is not conjecture but fact.

  • Jack
    September 05, 2010 - 08:02

    Court Reporter, you are definitely right on there. Its because of NAPE's hurtful actions that hard working disabled persons in the Burin Peninsula area have been out of the job for an eternity in their perspective, over nine months, and the union doesn't seem to care. Now they bring their abuse and greed to Purity Factories, a highly respectible confectionary and baked goods factory in this province, fighting for salary increases that is equivalent to between 5% and 10% of their annual revenue, which is definitely not sustainable. If Purity fell into NAPE's demands, loyal Purity customers will pay much higher prices for their famous baked goods and confections. Given tight competition in the confectionary and baked goods market, 10% price increase will put Purity out of business and every Newfoundlander and Labradorian will suffer as a result of NAPE's greed. Stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador, stand up for loyal Purity customers, stop NAPE's greed and settle this dispute.

  • Discusted
    September 05, 2010 - 07:49

    With the prices of Purity products they should give the employes double what they want I used to buy thier products but not anymore . I have sent 3 emaill's too Purity Factories over the last couple months never did get a response ...Pizzzzzz poor customer service Every store you see thier products in the prices are different Take a look at WAL- MART PRICES FOR PURITY PRIDUCTS ,,

  • Court Reporter
    September 05, 2010 - 06:44

    Union greed will once again see people out of work. In these economic times they should thankful they have a job...or will they after this. Unions are no longer relevant....protect the incompetent and suppress those with ambition. 20 years mixing candy and cookies doesn't "entitle" you to $21 per hour.

  • badameli
    September 05, 2010 - 06:09

    Thanks for the info - it's very different from the article. The article makes it look like the difference is about 10 cents/hr after a 3 year period. Do you have any other background information? Ie. over the past 6 years when minimum wage has climbed from $6/hr to $10/hr what has happened to those union salaries?

  • Signal Hill
    September 04, 2010 - 11:46

    Seeing as the court of public opinion is in session, perhaps some facts about the salary issue needs to be clarified. Employer's Position - 5 Year Contract Eff Date of Signing - $0.30 / hr Eff 27 Jun 2011 - $0.30 / hr Eff 27 Jun 2012 - $0.30 / hr Eff 27 Jun 2013 - $0.30 / hr Eff 27 Jun 2014 - $0.30 / hr Approximate starting wage as of 27 Jun 2014 - $17.97 / hr Union's Position - 3 Year Contract Eff Date of Signing - $1.50 / hr Eff 27 Jun 2011 - $1.50 / hr Eff 27 Jun 2012 - $1.50 / hr Approximate starting wage as of 27 Jun 2012 - $20.97 / hr What say you, members of the jury?

    • memeber of jury
      September 30, 2010 - 18:49

      I say that it is time to give the employees a half decent raise....we are carrying the company on our back for years!!!!!!!!!!!