Unifor members who work in retail fight back at municipalities across the province against councils that seek to chip away at the few guaranteed holidays that they have.
In Ontario, the Retail Business Holidays Act (RBHA) declares there are nine recognized statutory holidays when stores, with a few exceptions, must remain closed. Municipal governments however, are able to introduce bylaws that allow stores to remain open on these holidays, but in Peel Region this week, the workers’ voices were heard and statutory holidays were protected.
On Thursday, June 14, the Peel Regional Council considered changing bylaws surrounding the Retail Business Holiday Act but voted unanimously to maintain the status quo, prohibiting shopping on statutory holidays.
“Being forced to work on statutory holidays denies retail workers the precious little time they have to spend with their families," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “I commend the councilors who heard the stories from their constituents and voted to protect statutory holidays for them.”
Members and representatives from Unifor Local 414, that represents approximately 1500 retail workers in the region and the Peel and District Labour Council held a rally before the council meeting, and presented at the meeting.
“Members of Local 414 work hard, often at multiple jobs with unpredictable schedules. That same work ethic comes through when we organize to defend our working conditions,” said Gord Currie, President of Unifor Local 414. “I hope that members across the province see this victory and believe that they too can fight back and win, because when we are united we are strong.”
Unifor has lobbied for several years at the municipal level to ensure that Ontario retail workers are not forced to accept extra workdays that will cut into valuable time with families. The community rally is just one of many actions that Unifor has organized to ensure that retailers remain closed on New Year's Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.