The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 has drawn a line in the sand with respect to its negotiations on behalf of approximately 8,500 Real Canadian Superstore and Real Canadian Liquorstore workers in Alberta — Oct. 6.
That’s the date employees of the Loblaw Companies Ltd. stores will walk off the job if a satisfactory contract offer has not been received, said Christine McMeckan, a communication representative with the UFCW Local 401.
“We’ll be bargaining under the shadow of that, so we’re very hopeful that the employer will come to the table with something meaningful this week,” she said.
“At this stage, we’re looking at an Alberta-wide strike for Oct. 6 if we don’t have an offer that (employees) can accept.”
Superstore employees in Red Deer and other cities in Alberta voted late last month in favour of strike action. Such measures, or a company lockout of workers, could now occur on 72 hours notice.
There are about 300 Superstore workers in Red Deer.
The union has said its members’ concerns include a reduction in their hours in recent years. McMeckan said previously that Loblaw is also pushing for financial rollbacks and a two-tier wage system.
Julija Hunter, vice-president of public relations with Loblaw, said in an email that her company is still committed to reaching a deal through negotiations. She added that because this process requires confidentiality, she couldn’t comment further.
The UFCW has made arrangements for its members to vote on an offer Sept. 29 and 30, said McMeckan. If one is not received by then, or it’s not acceptable to a majority of voting employees, then a walk out will likely occur.
She noted that Loblaw stores in Manitoba and Saskatchewan could be involved, since employees there have also voted in favour of strike action.
In response to a question about whether Superstore’s operations would continue in the event of a strike or lockout, Hunter said, “Loblaw Companies does have contingency plans for situations that may impact our valued customers.”