LCBO urges customers to stock up early as workers’ strike looms
As 7,000 Liquor Control Board workers prepare to walk off the job Friday, the LCBO is urging people to stock up on product ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.
“We are telling people that we have a long weekend coming, and we have a potential labour disruption so if you want to be prepared for the long weekend, go now,” LCBO spokesperson Sally Ritchie told CTV News Monday.
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.
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 midnight on May 17 -- or the Friday before the long weekend.
Ritchie said the LCBO is “hopeful” that an agreement can be negotiated, however, the board is making alternate arrangements in the event of a strike.
“We do have a plan to provide customers with some level of service,” she said.
Ritchie would not provide details, saying it largely depends on what actions the union takes.
Meanwhile, the union representing the LCBO employees was stepping up pressure Monday, opening strike offices across Ontario.
OPSEU said media events will take place at various strike headquarters locations including in London, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay. An additional 26 headquarters will open throughout the week, the union said in a statement on their website.
OPSEU union steward Craig Hadley told a news conference Monday that workers deserve more job security and benefits from the LCBO, emphasizing that the board makes billions in liquor sale profits each year.
One of the main problems remains security of hours for part-time workers, Hadley told reporters.
“Unlike a lot of other places where part-time means there’s a guarantee of hours, there’s no guarantee of hours,” he said.
In a statement, OPSEU president Warren Thomas said the union is working toward a “reasonable settlement” at the bargaining table but will go ahead with a strike should the LCBO refuse “to move on key issues.”
“There is no reason for part-time workers to make less money performing the same work as full-time employees,” Thomas said. “There is no reason for part-time workers to go week to week without a schedule, and then only work a few hours.”
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.
OPSEU said other main issues it wants resolved in the new contract include the boosting of part-time wages, and improved health and safety standards.
With a report from CTV's Austin Delaney