UPDATE: LCBO employees vote overwhelmingly for strike

Nick Seebruch
UPDATE: LCBO employees vote overwhelmingly for strike
The LCBO on Second St. in Cornwall (Nick Seebruch/ TC Media).

PROVINCE WIDE – LCBO employees of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) voted in favour of a strike by a margin of 93 percent.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of OPSEU said that this does not mean that a work action is imminent.

“This emplyer wanted to see our strike vote first,” he said. “This was the highest margin in favour that we have ever seen. Now that we are returning to the bargaining table with this mandate, this shows we’re serious.”

Thomas explained that before any lock out or strike is to occur that there would have to first be consultation between the two parties and that if there continues to be an impasse, then strike action may be considered.

“It won’t be before three weeks from now,” said Thomas.

Thomas explained to Seaway News that the employer’s negotiating team is currently influx as their chairperson resigned the day of the strike vote.

“I’m not sure what to make of that,” he said. “Hopefully it means they are getting ready to listen.”

OPSEU representes about 7, 500 LCBO employees. Besides working hours, pay and benefits, a strong sticking point of the negotiations between the workers and their employer has been the introduction of beer and liquor sales in grocery stores.

“Our position is that the LCBO is a public instituion for the control and safe distribution of a drug,” said Thomas.

The OPSEU bargaining team have been in negotiations since the end of March, and they have made stopping privatization a key part of their strategy.

“You would think the LCBO would be looking to strengthen itself to oppose further privatization. Instead, the employer’s proposals are designed to make it easier to further privatize our work,” OPSEU said in a statement on thie website.

In fall 2015, 130 grocery stores began selling alcohol and 70 of those sell wine and cider as well. The government plans to expand the list of stores to 450.

“Until recently, the Liberals had highlighted the fact that they hadn’t opened new agency stores since their election – but now, the LCBO’s actions suggest the government might be looking at expanding the program again,” the OPSEU statement reads. “On the other hand, our team knows that a better LCBO starts with stopping privatization. That’s why we’re proposing strong new anti-privatization language at the bargaining table.

“After watching what happened with Hydro One, we know this government can’t be trusted to look out for the public’s interest when it comes to our public assets,” the statement continues. “So we’re proposing language that would mean the government can’t move ahead with privatizing the LCBO without the public’s approval. We think Ontarians should get the say they didn’t have on Hydro One.”

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