Employees on Strike at Hartland Potato Chip Company

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HARTLAND, NB - Some union employees at a Hartland potato chip company are on strike and have been since six Tuesday morning.

"So what we have today is a labor dispute. These workers have been trying to secure their first contract with the company for about two years," said Patrick Colford, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labor.

Patrick Colford is referring to the Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company in Hartland. According to The Fox 105.3, half of the company's 32 unionized employees, walked off the job at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to begin a strike to get a contract. A contract that will allow employees to make more than minimum wage and offer respect to those with seniority.

"The top people that have been here could be laid off at anytime, and that's not fair. And the wages, I've gotten a ten cent raise since the last time I've been here. The minimum wage went up and that ten cent raise was taken, I only got 20 cents after that," said Betty Demerchant, an employee of the company.

"Seniority is a big issue and it's actually very common in this type of industry. Seniority is the cornerstone of a union or of their rights so whether they can lay people off or give out hours, it's all based on seniority," said Carl Flanagan, National Representative for the UFCW Canada.

According to The Fox 105.3, the company released a statement saying "We want you, our loyal chip fans, customers and suppliers to know that this is just a small bump in the road that many family businesses encounter and we are motivated to getting past this."

"What we're looking for is the employer to come back to the table, basically for both sides to come together and settle the contract that's going to be suitable for both parties," said Colford.

The statement goes on to say that all production and business operations will continue.