Sobeys picks fight with Western Canada workers: UFCW locals stand in solidarity

Yesterday, on the first day of contract talks, Sobeys picked a fight with UFCW 832, tabling a proposal seeking massive concessions that would take money out of the pockets of grocery workers, some of whom are already struggling to make ends meet. Then the company walked away from the table, cancelling the rest of the week’s bargaining dates.

Based in Manitoba, UFCW 832 represents 19,000 members working in retail, food processing, health care, security, the garment industry and transportation.

Since Sobeys purchased Safeway Canada four years ago, they have severely mismanaged the company, causing their market share to decline dramatically. Sobeys’ bungling included supply chain disruption, empty shelves, short staffing and long line ups, all of which have contributed to dissatisfied customers and lost sales.“Sobeys is owned by one of Canada’s richest families. Safeway was thriving until they came along. And now they want workers to pay for their mistakes? That’s unacceptable,” said UFCW 1518 President Ivan Limpright.

“If Sobeys was serious about rebuilding the company, this wouldn’t be their opening salvo,” President Limpright added. “They would come to the table ready to respectfully and meaningfully bargain. They wouldn’t take their mistakes out on their workers, some of whom barely make a living wage. It’s an insult.”

As UFCW 1518 prepares to enter into their own negotiations with Sobeys, President Limpright had this message for the company: “Bullying and scare tactics won’t work in Western Canada. We will come to the table prepared to bargain a collective agreement that ensures a living wage and quality of life for our members. If Sobeys was smart, they’d understand how these things benefit their bottom line, in the long and short term. British Columbians will have a hard time supporting a grocery store whose own employees can’t afford to buy groceries from.”

Read the statement from UFCW 832 here.

Read UFCW 274’s statement of solidarity here.