OPSEU demands LCBO bosses prioritize recognition and safety for workers, not profits

“The safety of front-line workers and the safety of our communities should be our top priority,” stated Thomas. “Ignoring expert medical advice by expanding hours ahead of the long weekend increases the risk of community spread, for what reason?" — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto (6 May 2020) — The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is demanding that LCBO senior management put recognition for their workers ahead of padding their own executive bonuses.

Workers at risk

The Crown corporation has announced to employees that it will be expanding hours just in time for the May long weekend. Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President, says President and CEO George Soleas is carelessly putting his front-line workers at greater risk for his own personal gain.

“It’s absolutely appalling that Soleas and his cronies refuse to give hazard pay to their front-line workers but have no qualms about expanding the number of hours they’re potentially exposed to COVID-19,” said Thomas. “This is corrupt leadership at its finest – prioritizing your own bottom line above all else.”

Safety should be top priority

Thomas noted that the LCBO has been slow to communicate with OPSEU/NUPGE around health and safety concerns, neglecting to inform the union when an employee began showing symptoms of COVID-19 at the LCBO’s Durham warehouse and came back with a positive test result on Sunday.

“The safety of front-line workers and the safety of our communities should be our top priority,” stated Thomas. “Ignoring expert medical advice by expanding hours ahead of the long weekend increases the risk of community spread, for what reason? So that the power-drunk, profit-hungry LCBO bosses can get even larger bonuses from long-weekend sales? I think last week the Premier referred to such wanton disregard for each other’s safety as the action of yahoos. I highly recommend the Premier tell these guys to pack their bags, too.”

Chocolate as token of thanks an insult to workers risking their lives

OPSEU/NUPGE has been consistently pushing the LCBO to show recognition for its essential workers, who have been risking their own health and safety to keep stores open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer pointed out that, at a time when stores are seeing weekly sales increases of up to 31 per cent, LCBO’s senior management chose to hand out donated chocolate bunnies as “a token of thanks” to its workers.

“Chocolate is the best LCBO’s senior management can do to recognize the efforts of their employees?” asked Almeida. “This shows how seriously disconnected from the reality of front-line work they truly are.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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