Metro says union refused request to meet amid ongoing grocery strike in the GTA


Published August 16, 2023 at 8:52 am


Amid an ongoing strike by Metro workers in Toronto, the grocery giant said Unifor refused its request to meet with the bargaining committee.

Metro’s bargaining committee reached out to Unifor over the weekend and offered to meet as soon as Sunday or Monday, said spokeswoman Marie-Claude Bacon in a statement.

However, Unifor said it’s waiting for an acceptable offer from Metro.

“Front-line grocery workers have been clear about their expectations, and what the company presented is inadequate,” Gord Currie, president of Unifor Local 414, said in a statement.

“This dispute is about wages — members have spoken loudly that they’ve watched their wages slowly erode over time, while this company turns out record profits, and they are demanding a fairer deal.”

Around 3,700 Metro workers have been on strike since late July at 27 stores across the Greater Toronto Area.

Some workers have said they struggle to afford the very food they sell, and many have been calling for their pandemic “hero pay” of $2 an hour to be reinstated.

In late July, the workers voted against a tentative agreement that Unifor national president Lana Payne described as their best in decades, choosing instead to strike and demand more from their employer.

The tentative agreement included paid sick days for part-time workers, improvements in benefits and pensions, and significant wage increases, Bacon said, with full-time and senior part-time employees getting $3.75 more per hour by July 2026.

The agreement included no concessions for Metro workers, said Bacon.

“It’s the joint responsibility of Metro and the union to keep trying to negotiate an outcome at the bargaining table, particularly in a context where the parties had reached a very good agreement which both parties recognized as such and that was unanimously recommended by union representatives to the employees,” she said.

Unifor has said grocery workers are asking for a fair share of Metro’s profits. The grocer reported higher earnings in its latest quarter as sales rose, beating analysts’ expectations.

The union has signalled it intends to pattern bargain with the major grocers over the next two years, meaning the Metro contract could help set standards for other agreements across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 15, 2023.

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