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LCBO workers prepare for a strike

Pam Johnson

June 7, 2017

LCBO workers are preparing to strike after saying no to attempts to privatize and contract out their work, the entrenchment of precarious work, and dangerous ‘money saving’ schemes like scheduling employees work to alone, with the potential for dealing with difficult customers. 

The workers, members of OPSEU, gave a strong  93% mandate for a strike. Information pickets have been held across the province to let the public know what the issues are and mobilize the members.

The LCBO currently makes about a $2 billion dollar annual profit for the government of Ontario. But, similarly to the Ontario Hydro sell-off, the short term gain of the sale of this asset, has been touted as good economic sense by the Wynne government.

Not only would that annual profit be lost to Ontario’s coffers, but, the workers’ wages and conditions would be under continual pressure as private owners attempted to compete and maximize their profit. This is the scenario in Alberta where liquor sales have been completely privatized. And, one-third of licenses for in- store sales on liquor in Ontario went to Walmart.

Casual workers have 4-hour shifts and must be available 7 days a week. "We have workers trapped in so-called casual positions for decades, working seven days a week, and bringing home an average of less than $30,000 a year," said bargaining chair Denise Davis. "And we have seasonal workers sitting at home while underpaid temp agency workers do their jobs. The status quo isn't sustainable - and management's proposals would make an already difficult situation worse."

Wynne’s Doublespeak

The big irony here is that this attack on workers is occurring at the same moment that Wynne’s government is proposing changes to employment standards and labour law with the intent to improve workers’ rights and standards.

"Our members see their Premier on the evening news promising improvements for workers," said OPSEU head, Smokey Thomas. "But when they show up for work in the morning, they find their government-owned employer continuing to exploit them.’

The Fight for $15 and Fairness shows that is possible to fight for demands for better work and pressure the government into action. LCBO workers are continuing this struggle in their workplace.

 A ‘ no board’ report was filed on June 6, triggering a potential strike before the end of June. If the strike goes ahead, picket lines will be up at most locations. Head down to your local LCBO to show your support.


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