Federal intervention and higher wages needed to address affordability, food prices

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A women is shock checking her grocery bill

Canada’s largest private sector union calls for higher wages to address stark affordability challenges impacting families and joins the federal government’s call to stabilize food prices.

“Let’s call this affordability crisis what it is: profiteering and interest rate hikes that are doing more harm than good,” says Unifor National President Lana Payne. “Canadians are reminded every day of how unaffordable life has become. They are reminded every time they visit their local grocery store. Grocery barons cannot claim their margins are razor thin while raking in historic profits and refusing to provide decent work and pay for grocery workers. We need to see some real action here from the federal government.”

More than 3,700 frontline grocery workers at Metro recently concluded a month-long strike which centred on affordability and demanding the company share its record profits with workers by significantly raising stagnated wages. Across virtually all sectors of the union, workers report struggling to afford rent, gas, and groceries, reports Unifor. 

“It took one of the biggest strikes in the union’s history to force one of Canada’s richest grocery giants, Metro, to come to the table with a serious wage offer,” says Gord Currie, Unifor Local 414 President. “We can’t rely on greedy corporations to address affordability when they stand to gain from higher prices and face no repercussions.”

Unifor is heading into contract negotiations for an additional 6,000 grocery workers including those at other Metro stores, Sobeys, and Loblaws. Dominion stores in Newfoundland, which are owned by Loblaw, are set to bargain a contract for 1,400 workers this fall. 

“We’ll be using the Metro agreement as a template but know that companies like Loblaw aren’t going to ante-up willingly,” says Carolyn Wrice, Unifor Local 597 President. “We know it’s going to take an incredible show of worker and community solidarity to address the real affordability issues impacting families. We need the federal government to side with workers and families and take a real, actionable stand against Canada’s grocery barons.”

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. 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.

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Paul Whyte at @email or 647-549-6546 (cell).

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Paul Whyte