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Maple Leaf Winnipeg plant prepares to implement new industry competitive collective agreement

WINNIPEG, March 31 /CNW/ – Maple Leaf Food’s Winnipeg pork plant announced
today that it is preparing to implement the new industry-competitive collective
agreement, ratified by more than 70 per cent of employees on September 13,
1998, effective April 1, 1999.

“We are working towards a smooth transition to the new agreement,” said Steven
B. McArthur, President of Maple Leaf Consumer Foods. “We understand this
transition will be challenging for our employees. However, the new agreement is
essential to ensure a future for the plant. It is our intent to make Winnipeg a
first-rate processed meats facility. This agreement will make the Winnipeg
plant competitive on a North American scale and provide a platform for

“We have made every effort to communicate with our employees about their
options and opportunities as well as providing financial planning services,”
added McArthur. “We have also taken steps to ensure our retail customers and
consumers experience no disruption in the supply of Maple Leaf products.” Part
of the new collective agreement provides for a buyout package to each of the
865 hourly employees working at the plant on September 13, 1998. Employees will
receive a minimum of $5,000 plus a top up amount based on years of service.

“We understand that approximately 30 per cent of our employees were not in
favour of the new agreement. The expectation was this group would likely choose
to take their buyout and pursue other opportunities. Many have already done so
and more may do so following implementation. We would like our employees to
stay with us, but recognize it is a highly personal decision,” said McArthur.

The company has taken steps to ensure adequate personnel levels in order to
maintain operations and to ensure fulfilment of customer orders. The Maple Leaf
plant in Winnipeg will continue with full operations, including the pork
slaughter, until at least the end of 1999.

For further information: Carolynn Penton, Fleishman-Hillard, (204) 235-8219,
(416) 214-0701