Liquor store workers in Manitoba launch one day strike to protest contract talks
Many of Manitoba’s Crown-owned liquor stores are closed and others are scaling back their operations as unionized workers launch a one-day strike to protest contract talks.
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries says seven stores will remain open, with reduced hours, in Winnipeg and Brandon.
The strike does not affect private operators such as beer vendors, specialty wine stores and many rural liquor outlets.
The workers are protesting contract negotiations and have been without a collective agreement for more than a year.
Manitoba Government and General Employees Union president Kyle Ross says the latest contract offer was for four years with two per cent wage hikes each year.
He says that is not enough to keep up with inflation, and it does not recognize what workers faced during the pandemic and an earlier spike in robberies that led to increased security in all government-run stores.
“With inflation being eight per cent last year, every year going forward that means these employees are losing buying power,” Ross said Wednesday.
After the one-day strike ends, Ross said there will be other job action including a refusal to work overtime.
“Hopefully we can get back to the table and resolve this. I think there’s a deal here to be made as long as (management personnel) understand where our members are at.”
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries declined an interview request and issued a written statement that said negotiations are to resume later in the week.
“M.B.L.L. remains committed to returning to the table on Friday to reach a fair collective agreement that balances steady improvements for our staff with the corporation’s financial commitment to all Manitobans to provide revenues that support priority programs such as education and health care,” the statement read.
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