Ontario liquor strike looms over part-time jobs | National Union of Public and General Employees

Ontario liquor strike looms over part-time jobs

LCBO workers scheduled to walk out at 12:01 a.m. June 24 in showdown over exploitation of part-time workers.

Toronto (23 June 2009) - As the hours tick down to a 12:01 Wednesday strike deadline, the key question facing the hugely-profitable Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) comes down to this: Will Premier Dalton McGuinty squander nearly $5 million a day in liquor store profits to fight the creation of good LCBO jobs?

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has been clear from the start that these contract talks are about decent jobs that support families and contribute to the well-being of communities.

"Do we want a province where most people are scraping by on part-time, temporary jobs with no benefits, no security and no way to save for retirement?" OPSEU asks.

"Or do we want a province with good jobs that allow people to live decently, bring their children up properly and retire with dignity?"

The premier must decide

OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it's time for the premier to declare where he stands.

“If any employer can afford to protect and create good jobs, it’s the LCBO, and Dalton controls it,” Thomas notes. "In McGuinty’s Ontario, high-priced executives make heaps of money while working people struggle."

Thomas said it's time Ontario showed some concern for "the real people who do the real work" that keeps this province running.

“If we end up on strike, it will be because McGuinty would rather lose (nearly) $5 million a day than protect and create good jobs in our communities.”

In 2007-08 the LCBO made $1.345 billion in profits and $383 million in sales taxes for Ontario taxpayers - a total of $1.728 billion, or $4.7 million a day on average. In peak periods like summer, the daily profit total is much higher.

Bargaining continues

Bargaining between the LCBO and OPSEU resumed on Monday. The two sides have agreed to meet up to the strike deadline.

In the last few weeks, members across Ontario have been registering for strike pay and preparing to strike if necessary.

“On behalf of the bargaining team, I want to thank each and every member whose work has brought us to this state of readiness,” says Vanda Klumper, chair of the union bargaining team.

“Stand firm and be ready. The next few days are going to be intense.”

Exploiting part-timers

The central issue in talks, which began March 9, is the LCBO’s attack on full-time jobs and its drive to run its operations with a casual workforce with lower pay, no guaranteed hours, no job security, and no benefits. OPSEU says 60% of members in the Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) unit are casuals who earn less than $20,800 a year on average.

OPSEU says demands made by LCBO negotiators would – if imposed – wipe out the remaining 2,400 full-time jobs at the agency, leaving no full-time jobs guaranteed year-round.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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