More than 1,200 workers at No Frills, a discount arm of Canadian supermarket chain Loblaw, say they want better wages and improved working conditions or they will strike on Nov. 20.
Unifor, the union representing the workers, negotiated a deal to end the five-week Metro strike earlier in the year and the demands of the No Frills workers are similar.
“Loblaw must come to the table prepared to raise wages, improve working conditions, and create more full-time jobs for these grocery store workers. They deserve decent work and pay. It’s as simple as that,” says Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Every single financial quarter Loblaw posts higher profits than the last. It's past time the workers helping them earn these profits get a share so they can support their own families.”
Loblaw did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication of this story.
Earlier in the week Loblaw reported third quarter profit of $621 million, which is about a 12% increase year-over-year.
Unifor believes the rise in profits is because more and more shoppers are turning to No Frills discount stores during this time of inflation.
One sticking point for the No Frills workers is the lack of full-time positions. Unifor says Loblaw is misusing part-time workers.
“You know it’s bad when workers at Canada’s largest grocery store chain are struggling to afford their own food, even at discount stores like No Frills. It’s ultimately up to Loblaw to avert a strike and do the right thing to support its workers and customers,” says Gord Currie, Unifor Local 414 President.
Canadian grocery workers have been pressing stores to give more to employees this year, and Loblaws has been hit the hardest.
Workers at Canada Superstore, which is part of the Loblaw network, threatened to strike before agreeing to a new five-year contract that includes wage increases that are the highest the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832 has negotiated in 25 years. New scheduling changes also make it easier for part-time workers to get more hours.
Workers at Loblaw stores were on the verge of a strike before coming to terms on a new deal that improved wages and working conditions.
Over 3,000 Safeway union members said they would walk off the job after eight months of contract negotiations.
In the case of Metro, workers ratified a new five-year labor agreement with the Canadian grocery retailer, ending a month-long strike involving more than 3,700 employees at 27 stores in and around the Toronto area.
Full-time and senior part-time workers received a pay increase of $2 an hour and all workers received a $1.50 an hour raise.
Over the life of the deal, full- and senior part-time workers will be paid $4.50 an hour more. The pay improvement for non-senior part-time workers will be $3.20 an hour.
Added benefits include a new part-time sick leave program, improved pensions, a new standardized work week for full-time workers, more stable scheduling including additional guaranteed weekends off for some classifications, and job protection from the implementation of self-checkouts.