Nfld. & Labrador

Dominion workers vote in favour of strike beginning July 31

Dominion stores employ more than 1,300 workers in 11 locations across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dominion stores employ more than 1,300 workers in 11 locations across N.L.

Dominion workers across Newfoundland and Labrador voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike Friday. The strike would begin July 31 if a new deal is not reached with Loblaw Companies Limited. (Gary Quigley/CBC)

Dominion workers across Newfoundland and Labrador will strike if a new collective agreement cannot be reached with their employer, after employees represented by Unifor voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.

The call for a strike began in June after Dominion's parent company, Loblaw Companies Limited, ended a $2-an-hour wage increase for essential workers during the pandemic. The company also cut 60 full-time jobs in 2019, converting the positions to part time.

The company was also unable to negotiate a new collective agreement with Unifor, which the union had been working toward since the previous agreement expired in November.

If a new agreement is not reached by next week, Dominion workers will strike beginning July 31.

Dominion stores employ more than 1,300 workers in 11 locations across the province.

Carolyn Wrice, president of Unifor Local 597, said the lost jobs and wages were the final straw that lead to a strike vote.

"The employees want this to stop," Wrice told CBC Radio's On The Go following the vote Friday. "We want some of those jobs back, and the employees want to be recognized as full-time workers. They want good pay, they want benefits. They deserve it. They want a wage increase, like everybody."

Wrice said workers at the grocery store should be rewarded for their work during the pandemic, but the majority of them earn barely more minimum wage.

"Our workers stepped up to this pandemic when it came on, and they stayed," she said. "They were dedicated to their jobs, they were dedicated to the people of the province.… They are still there, and if this second wave comes, they will continue to provide service to our province.

"The companies, in their opinion, they think the pandemic is gone," she added. "Well, in our opinion, it's not gone. It's still there, and our workers are still working in this."

Unifor Local 597 president Carolyn Wrice, seen here in 2016, says workers are open to resuming meetings prior to the strike mandate of July 31. (CBC)

Wrice said Unifor has contacted Loblaw to try to return to the bargaining table. But if a deal can't be reached, she said, workers will be ready to strike in one week.

"We want a deal. Our intent is not to have our people on the streets," she said. "If there's no deal reached, I guess we'll be out on the streets."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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