UFCW WORKERS AT WESTFAIR STORES APPROVE WALKOUT

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- More than 2,100 cashiers, shelf-stockers, butchers and bakers in 18 Westfair Foods-owned Superstores and Extra Foods outlets across Manitoba have voted to strike Nov. 10, one day after their present union contract expires.The United Food and Commercial Workers union members voted in favor of a walkout to force Westfair to boost a larger number of part-time employees to full-time

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- More than 2,100 cashiers, shelf-stockers, butchers and bakers in 18 Westfair Foods-owned Superstores and Extra Foods outlets across Manitoba have voted to strike Nov. 10, one day after their present union contract expires.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union members voted in favor of a walkout to force Westfair to boost a larger number of part-time employees to full-time status.

UFCW spokesman Don Keith said only 8.5% of Westfair's staff is full-time, compared with rival Safeway, where a contract with the same union requires 25% of workers to be full-time. Keith said most Westfair employees are working less than 15 hours a week.

"Many part-time employees with years of experience receive as little as four hours work per week, and with wages running from $7.50 Canadian to even $16 Canadian [per hour]. That's not enough to live on," he said.

Many area shoppers still remember 1987's four-month strike, which included violent confrontations after Westfair staffed its supermarkets with replacement workers. "Chances of that ugly situation happening again are remote -- if the stores are closed," said Keith.

Westfair spokesman David Ryzebol said, "We're still hopeful we can make a deal. The union has given us a deadline, so we'll have to talk."