LCBO urges Ontarians to stock up early as strike deadline looms
Patrons line up to get into an LCBO outlet as others leave in Mississauga, Ont., Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. (J.P. Moczulski / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, May 10, 2013 1:40PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 10, 2013 3:50PM EDT
With a strike deadline looming, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is encouraging customers to stock up well ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.
In a statement posted to its website Friday, the LCBO suggested customers should “shop early” for the best product selection, especially since most of its stores will be closed on May 20.
“LCBO reminds its customers that, regardless of the status of negotiations with the union representing its bargaining unit employees, all LCBO stores will be closed on Victoria Day,” the statement read.
“Customers entertaining this weekend can avoid any possible service disruptions by shopping our stores early and stocking up.”
The LCBO is in the midst of labour negotiations with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents more than 7,000 of the agency’s employees.
Last month, the union voted 95 per cent in favour of staging a strike should contracted talks between the two sides break down.
That deadline is set for May 17 -- or the Friday before the long weekend.
Meanwhile, the union said Friday it plans to file a legal complaint with the province's human rights tribunal, alleging the Crown Corporation discriminates against its casual workers.
According to OPSEU, the retailer "deliberately" categorizes regular, year-round customer service positions as casual so it can pay them less than permanent workers.
In a statement posted to the OPSEU website, the union said more than 60 per cent of LCBO workers are considered casual employees and earn an average annual income of $26,000.
"There is nothing ‘casual’ about the LCBO’s 'casual employees'," OPSEU president Warren Thomas said in a statement Thursday.
"This group of workers is the backbone of a corporation that hands over more than $2 billion each year to the provincial treasury. The LCBO and the Ontario government are, in our view, violating both the Ontario Human Rights Code and moral code."
OPSEU has also launched a series of 30-second radio ads in English and French addressing what they is a growing problem where employers with "increasingly high profits" continue to "squeeze" those making those profits possible.
"Employers these days are driving big changes in the workplace that are making it harder and harder for people to make a living," Thomas said.
The LCBO's four-year contract with its employees expired on March 31. Both OPSEU and the LCBO have been in negotiations since mid-February, but little progress has been made so far.
OPSEU said the main issues it wants resolved in the new contract include the boosting of part-time wages, and improved health and safety standards.