More than 1,200 Dominion grocery store workers across Newfoundland and Labrador are preparing to defend good jobs and fair wages. This week, Local 597 began a series of meetings to seek member input on priorities for upcoming negotiations with Loblaw Companies Limited, the parent company of Dominion.
“Loblaw is the biggest, richest retail corporation in all of Canada,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “But where other grocers are turning their attention inward, investing in full-time jobs, high morale, and low turnover – Loblaw continues to treat its most prized asset, its people, simply as a business cost. They deserve better."
In June, Loblaw announced restructuring to cut full-time jobs at Dominion stores across the province while the company continues to hire additional part-time workers to fill shifts.
“It is important to remember that at one point, supermarket jobs in Canada were good jobs – very good jobs. In any given store, more than 80 per cent of staff were full-time with decent, living wages, benefits and a pension," said Chris MacDonald, Assistant to the National President. "The ratios have been turned on their head now with 80 per cent of grocery store workers in precarious part-time positions with little stability and much lower wages. We're listening to our members when they say this is making things very difficult for them."
Loblaw has taken a hands-off approach in supporting good jobs, claiming it’s the responsibility of public-policy makers.
“Loblaw is asking the existing staff to do more with less,” said Carolyn Wrice, Local 597 President. “Loblaw would rather see its own staff unable to buy groceries at the stores where they work than support good jobs."
Members began meetings In Stephenville on October 20 and continue across the island In Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander, Bay Roberts, Carbonear, and lastly In St. John's. Negotiations between Unifor and Loblaw are scheduled to begin mid-November.
Unifor represents more than 20,000 members who work in supermarkets, pharmacies, appliance stores and other retail shops across Canada.