Canada’s Largest Private Sector Union Backs Fair Wages for Frontline Grocery Store Workers

Unifor Calls For Fair Pay Forever For Grocery Workers

Call Comes in Wake of Weston Family’s Recent Decision to stop paying their front-line workers an additional $2 an hour for the risks they face working in its chain stores during this pandemic

“We are fighting to make sure the pandemic pay stays.”                 –  Unifor National President Jerry Dias

A Call-Out for Fair Pay for Essential Workers from Unifor, Canada’s Largest Private Sector Union

Posted June 21st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

COVID-19 is still very much with us, but frontline workers in stores like this – one of the many brand name grocery chains the billionaire Weston family owns – have now seen their additional $2 an hour pandemic pay disappear. Meanwhile, Weston stores have seen their profits soar during this pandemic.

Unifor members from across Canada came together for a virtual rally this (past Friday, June 19th) afternoon in support of grocery workers who have seen their pay cut this past week.

“It has become clear, based on governments, based on the employers, that the respect that our members are shown by consumers is certainly not shown by the corporations,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in the rally, streamed live on Facebook from four different cities.

“We are fighting to make sure the pandemic pay stays.”

News of the pay cuts this week was quickly followed by word that the Ontario government was considering taking away all but three statutory holidays for retail workers, leaving only Christmas, Good Friday and Canada Day. The proposal was quickly dropped in the face of negative reaction from the public on social media.

“Think about who we are talking about,” said Unifor Ontario Director Naureen Rizvi.

“It’s your neighbors who often work there, your friends, children of those you know, these are who we are talking about today. Those workers got up each and every day, they came into work, despite the fear and despite the risk of contracting COVID-19, to keep our food supply system moving.”

Loblaw was the first to announce it would end the $2 premium paid to workers in its grocery stores, and was soon followed by other major retailers, including Metro and Sobeys.

“These are workers just doing their jobs, doing their duty. They remind us what it is to be selfless. And to act for the greater good,” Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil said.

Unifor is currently in negotiations with Loblaw-owned Dominion Stores in Newfoundland and Labrador, attempting to reverse a 2019 company decision to eliminate one in five full-time supermarket jobs. 

“The fact is, we always work hard. Harder and harder every year, to keep this company profitable. Yet our wages barely move. Our benefits hardly improve. Our jobs grow more precarious,” said Carolyn Wrice, Unifor Local 597 President in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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.

About UNIFOR – Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 315,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy.
Unifor brings a modern approach to unionism: adopting new tools, involving and engaging our members, and always looking for new ways to develop the role and approach of our union to meet the demands of the 21st century.

For more information on and from Unifor, click on the union’s website at – https://www.unifor.org/

To listen to a recent interview on CBC Radio’s ‘As It Happens’with a front-line grocery store worker from Niagara, Ontario, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/scrapping-2-hourly-bonus-for-grocery-store-workers-a-slap-in-the-face-loblaw-baker-1.5614541

To read another recent CBC report on this issue, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/grocery-chains-covid-pay-1.5609290

Niagara At Large will have more to say about this issue in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, let us all do a little research in our communities, if we haven ‘t already, to find the locally owned independent grocery and pharmacy stores near us, and do our shopping in them instead!

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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