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UFCW 1518 holds province-wide vote in Sobeys dispute


UFCW 1518 holds province-wide vote in Sobeys dispute

Canada NewsWire

4000 jobs at risk as Sobeys closes, converts Safeway stores

NEW WESTMINSTER, BC, Aug. 17, 2018 /CNW/ - UFCW 1518 is urging members to vote no and reject the recommendations issued by Special Officer Vince Ready in a province-wide vote next week.

In January, Sobeys closed 10 Safeway stores in British Columbia, suggesting it would reopen five of them if it got concessions in a new collective agreement. Negotiations between union and company stalled in March after Sobeys refused to budge from its concessions-only demands.

"If some of our members can't even afford to shop at Safeway, I don't know how Sobeys thinks they'd be able to live on less. Our members deserve a living wage, not poverty concessions," said President Limpright.

"We have been at a deadlock from the beginning of negotiations. It was truly our hope with the appointment of the Special Officer that we would see some real movement to a resolution through mediation which is yet to happen," President Limpright added.

Sobeys is attempting to gut the collective agreement and see workers endure more hardship. The recommendations also threaten the viability of the grocery industry in British Columbia, poised to start a race to the bottom in an already fierce market.

"This bodes very ill for BC's grocery business, and workers in that industry," President Limpright said. "Look, Sobeys took a once-great grocery business and drove it into the ground through mismanagement and arrogance. Now they want our members to pay for their mistakes by reducing hard won wages and benefits. It's truly unbelievable."

According to President Limpright, the Special Officer's recommendations would demand untold concessions from the majority of the union's 4000 Safeway members through a process called Quarterly Review. Negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys would be placed on hold until an undetermined date, and the parties would begin bargaining for a new collective agreement for FreshCo, Sobeys discount banner. In other provinces, FreshCo also has a discount collective agreement, with inferior wages and benefits for workers.

"We're holding a province wide vote because we need to hear from members on this. The recommendations are so alarming that our bargaining committee is strongly urging our members reject them by voting no," explained President Limpright. "We know our members will come out in force and tell Sobeys where to stick those recommendations."

SOURCE United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518

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