WINNIPEG – United Steelworkers' (USW) Local 9469 members are furious that Westfair Foods Ltd., a regional division of Loblaws Companies Ltd., has tabled a contract demand to invoke a three-tier wage system, which would cap wages and benefits of its lowest-paid employees.
Workers have voted 94 per cent in favour of taking strike action to force the employer to remove this concession, while backing their union's demands for a fair and equitable collective agreement.
Some 330 USW members employed full- and part-time at the Westfair distribution warehouse and a retail outlet in the city have had enough of the company's continuing efforts to pay "lousy wages and benefits" ,says USW Staff Representative Lee Edwards.
Since the collective agreement expired in June 2007, 11 negotiating sessions have not brought the two sides closer.
"Our members expect at least wage and benefit parity with Westfair workers in Saskatoon," said Edwards. "And people who put in full-time hours deserve full-time wages and benefits."
Edwards said members struck for 10 months in 1996-1997 to successfully back their demands and that job action may once again become necessary.
"It is becoming increasing clear that Westfair, owned by one of Canada's largest retailer, is out to pick the pockets of its workforce," says Edwards, who said Winnipeg has now become a much less affordable major city to live.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, this year Winnipeg should be the third fastest growing economy in Canada, only behind Calgary and Edmonton.
The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing more than 280,000 men and women working in every sector of Canada's economy.
CONTACTS: Lee Edwards, 204.940.3050