Action Alert

You are here

Strike down Rexplas greed

By Michelle Robidoux and Christine Beckermann

May 20, 2021
The David and Goliath battle by workers on strike at Rexplas in Toronto is building support across the labour movement. 
Rexplas is a division of Richards Packaging, the #1 packaging distributor in Canada and #3 in North America. Sick of the company’s disrespect and poverty wages, the small group of primarily South-Asian women – members of United Steelworkers local 8300 – overwhelmingly rejected an insulting final offer and walked out on April 25th.
Amarjeet Lalli has worked at Rexplas for 27 years. Some of her co-workers have worked there for 32 years. This profitable company pays its workers a measly $14.25 an hour. “We deserve more money. They don’t pay us enough. We are hard working here, for a long time. We worked under Covid too, every day coming for a 12-hour shift.”
“Every other company gave workers extra pay,” she said. “But they gave us nothing, that’s why we are on strike.”
Rexplas manufactures plastic bottles and other containers for pharmaceuticals and other applications. While the pandemic led to a big boost in profits for Rexplas’ parent company, Richards Packaging, they have refused to compensate workers – many of whom live in Brampton, a Covid hotspot – for the hardships they’ve endured in this period.
Yet David Prupas, president of Richards Packaging, states on the company website, “Our employees are the ones who have made Richards Packaging the best packaging distributor in North America. Visit us in person and see for yourself.” This is a joke. How about, “Visit us in person on the picket line and see for yourself”?
The only way to describe the company’s actions is sheer greed. Richards Packaging CEO Gerry Glynn brought home $471,000 in 2019. By contrast, the 36 workers at Rexplas each made about $30k. As USW district 6 tweeted, “How much would it cost to settle the strike at Rexplas? Less than $22,000 a year. Stop targeting women of colour and newcomer communities for low wage jobs!”
If the company actually recognized that the employees are the reason they are making record profits, they would not pay them poverty wages after literally decades of work. As Amarjeet Lalli states, “Since we made the union, we try they give us something, but they don’t give us anything. That’s why now we are on strike. All the other unions are helping us.”
As another striker said, “They thought we were weak. That we would accept anything they offered us, but we are showing them that we are strong!” The strikers are well aware of the struggles that are growing around the world. Most of the workers are originally from India and have many relatives actively involved in the farmers’ strike there. Their cars have “Support Indian Farmers” as well as “USW on Strike” placards displayed, proudly making the links. 
“Back home, we are for farmers too, right?,” said Amarjeet. “My brother in India, they help farmers. Same thing here for us too. We can’t survive like this – everything is expensive, the gas, grocery – how do we survive? That is why we are on strike.”
These workers are fighting for justice. Strong solidarity will help them win. Join the picket line at 500 Barmac Drive (near Finch and Weston), in Toronto. 
Geo Tags: 

Featured Event


Visit our YouTube Channel for more videos: Our Youtube Channel
Visit our UStream Channel for live videos: Our Ustream Channel