Over 3,000 Sobeys employees across 40 Lower Mainland Safeway stores have voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike if bargaining talks break down in the weeks ahead.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518, which covers Sobeys’ employees from Whistler to Hope, says members voted 98 per cent in favour of the move.
President Kim Novak with UFCW 1518 says members have been speaking with their employer for months and saw little movement on improving wages while the company’s profits soared.
“We’ve been bargaining with them [Sobeys] for over eight months and in that time, they have not moved above one per cent wage increases each year, and in some years, no wage increases,” Novak explained.
“Sobeys is reporting profits, reporting higher sales and our members are being left behind. Our goal now is to go get a deal that we can bring back to our members that does reflect higher wages, access to full-time jobs and respect for the work that they do.”
This comes as the federal government is summoning the heads of Canada’s major grocery chains to Ottawa this fall to begin discussions on a plan to lower food costs for Canadians, as inflation continues to impact grocery bills.
Trudeau says grocery chain heads to be summoned to Ottawa about rising food costs
Besides wage increases, Novak says she also wants to see members gain full-time status more quickly, citing cases where some employees despite working hard, have worked over a decade without guaranteed hours.
“We have workers who’ve been there for over 15 years who are still waiting to be considered full time,” Novak added.
“We want that barrier lifted so you can actually be full time and have the respect in the hard work that you’re doing 40 hours a week.”
Still, Novak says it’s best for everyone if a strike can be avoided.
Bargaining talks between the union and Sobeys are scheduled for September 20 through 29.
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