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Grocery heads fail grocery workers, again

July 10, 2020 - 12:00 AM

TORONTO - Today the heads of Canada’s largest grocery store chains faced sharp questions from MPs about their treatment of frontline workers during the pandemic, but industry must make lasting changes to correct declining working conditions in the retail sector.

“It’s not that complicated. Workers are supporting these grocery chains through a pandemic that still isn’t over,” Dias said.

“As President of Loblaw, Sarah Davis took home $6.7 million and her company is making record profits. To see her sit there and talk about how much she respects the workers, but then cut their pay, it’s disgusting. Retail workers deserve better, and Canadians expect better.”

Today’s appearance before the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology was a chance for the heads of Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys to show true respect for their workers, and admit they were wrong to cut pandemic pay last month, Dias said.

“What we got instead was highly-paid grocery executives insisting they did not collude, and then going on to say – remarkably – virtually the same thing over and over again,” Dias said.

“The executive all admitted to exchanging `courtesy emails’ and `courtesy calls’ on pandemic pay, and yet insist there was no collusion. I look forward to the committee’s ruling on that.”

With strike votes beginning Monday at Loblaw-owned Dominion stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dias pledged to take the fight for good grocery jobs to the bargaining table.

“The fact is, good jobs build strong communities. We will stand up for good full-time jobs and pay rates that recognize the vital role these workers play in our communities,” Dias said.
Lawn signs are being delivered and put up across Newfoundland and Labrador in support of Dominion workers as they prepare for strike votes and a return to the bargaining table.

Dias appeared before the same committee Monday with Local 597 President Carolyn Wrice and Local 414 President Gord Currie. All three encouraged the committee to recommend a more sweeping study of declining working conditions in the retail industry.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 20,000 in the retail and wholesale sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, please contact Unifor Communications representative Stuart Laidlaw: stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or 647-385-4054 (cell).