Nfld. & Labrador

Dominion workers considering strike before Christmas

The labour dispute has reached the point where the idea of a December strike is being tossed around.

Unifor has asked government to appoint a conciliator

Dominion workers are considering striking, with contract talks between Loblaw and the union souring. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

The ongoing labour dispute between Dominion grocery stores and its workers' union has reached the point where the idea of a December strike is being tossed around.

Negotiations began last week but have already soured, leading Unifor to approach government and ask for a conciliator.

It's the next step in a process that could be leading toward a work stoppage during the busiest time of the year.

"I don't know if the conciliator is going to do anything miraculous to change the company's opinion or the union's," said Chris MacDonald, assistant to the Unifor national president.

The union represents 1,300 workers in Newfoundland and Labrador, 87 per cent of whom are part-time employees. A sticking point of the negotiations has been the balance between part-time and full-time workers.

"They want some certainty as to the longevity and the possibility that they can actually turn this into a job they can raise their families on and that they can shop in the very store in which they work," MacDonald said.

Frankly, our members are fed up.- Chris MacDonald

The next step will be to tour the province and speak with members directly. It may involve distributing strike votes.

A strike would be a major disruption during the holiday season, but MacDonald said there is no right time or wrong time.

"It's a difficult time of the year, of course. But frankly, our members are fed up."

Last week, a spokesperson for Loblaw, the parent company of Dominion, said they wouldn't be making any comments in the media.

The union is concerned up to 80 full-time jobs could be lost, as more and more positions are hired part time.

Unifor says the average pay for a full-time worker is $19 an hour, while almost half of the part-timers are making less than $12 an hour.

MacDonald said workers are upset at the disparity in pay for people doing mostly the same jobs.

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