MONTREAL -- A labour dispute at a slaughterhouse near Quebec City has resulted in one million chickens being euthanized in recent weeks.

Negotiations resumed today between the Exceldor co-operative and its striking employees in the hopes of resolving the conflict.

Workers at the slaughterhouse in St-Anselme, Que., south of Quebec City, have been without a contract since July 2020 and have been on strike for more than three weeks in order to draw attention to issues related to salaries and working conditions.

The strike has forced Quebec producers to send euthanized chickens either to waste sites or to a rendering plant, where they can be transformed into products not for human consumption.

United Food and Commercial Workers union spokeswoman Roxane Larouche says it's believed that the discarded chickens would have provided up to four million meals.

Premier Francois Legault is urging both sides to take up the province on its offer of an arbitrator to help resolve the matter, noting in a social media post on Wednesday that the waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province's chicken production being thrown in the garbage.

Exceldor welcomed Quebec's offer, first made Tuesday, but the union has refused, saying it would prefer to continue with negotiations with a conciliator rather than have a third party impose a collective agreement.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 17, 2021.