Employees at Montreal cannabis shop threaten to strike
Working at the SQDC is not the same as working retail, says UFCW president
Employees at one of Quebec's government-run cannabis shops are threatening to strike for higher wages, just eight months after the legal outlets opened across the province.
The 21 employees of the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie location, one of 15 Société Québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) stores in Quebec, are asking for better salaries, paid holidays and bonuses.
Workers at the store have voted to give their union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), a strike mandate.
"The employer seems to be stuck on freezing wages at a level where they compare themselves to the retail industry in general," said UFCW Quebec president Antonio Filato.
He says that working at the cannabis store is nothing like other retail work, because employees have the social responsibility of monitoring clients, and need to receive specialized training.
He would like to see employees' wages raised, so that they are closer to other public service jobs. SQDC employees currently earn $14 an hour.
"The SAQ has a 60-year history, so as a union we're not trying to get that right away. We're just trying to get better wages," said Filato.
SAQ employees now earn $20.46, after months of negotiations. Filato hopes wages can get somewhere close to $18 an hour.
Filato says that striking is a last resort for the union. They will continue to try negotiating a new collective agreement, and employees will vote on whether or not to strike if they feel no progress is being made.
The UFCW also represents unionized SQDC employees in Rimouski and Mirabel. At the moment, these locations are not involved with the strike mandate, but the union will be trying to get them on board.