SAQ and its unionized employees reach agreement in principle

Deal will be presented to the 5,500 members of the Syndicat des employé-es de magasin et de bureau de la SAQ (SEMB SAQ) in January.

Pressure tactics are on hold for time being, according to CSN representative

Many SAQ stores have been plastered in stickers since the summer due to the labour dispute. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Quebec's liquor board (SAQ) and its unionized employees reached an agreement in principle Saturday morning.

It will be presented to the 5,500 members of the Syndicat des employé-es de magasin et de bureau de la SAQ (SEMB-SAQ) in January.

Until then, the union won't be commenting on the details, according to a news release.

In a message on its Facebook page, the union said it "sincerely believes the agreement is good for SEMB members."

The SAQ issued its own news release Saturday confirming the news and thanking clients for their patience over the last few weeks. 

The SEMB-SAQ is part of Quebec's second-largest trade union federation, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN). Ann Gingras, a CSN representative, told Radio-Canada that pressure tactics by employees have been suspended for the time being.

In September, union members voted in favour of an 18-day strike mandate, days that were added to a previous, six-day strike mandate.

Since June, employees have walked off the job 10 times, including last Thursday, when several SAQ retail outlets were closed for a one-day walkout.

Hundreds of employees attended a demonstration that day in front of the National Assembly in Quebec City, according to the union.

SAQ employees from across the province travelled by bus to Quebec City for Thursday's protest. (Jean-François Nadeau/Radio-Canada)

Salary negotiations were the last unresolved issue in the negotiations. The conflict was centred on a requirement to work weekend shifts — the busiest time at the SAQ. 

The employer had wanted to increase weekend staffing to meet the demand.

The last collective agreement expired March 31, 2017. Negotiations between the two sides began in February of that year.


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