Nfld. & Labrador

'People need to work,' Unifor says as Newfoundland Dominion stores restructure

The union says Loblaw is exploiting part-time employees by shouldering them with full-time hours.

Loblaw reducing number of full-time positions to union's outrage

Lana Payne is Unifor's Atlantic director. The union represents more than 1,200 Dominion employees at 11 stores in Newfoundland. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The union representing Dominion grocery store workers says a recent decision to restructure stores is exploiting part-time employees.

In a news release Monday, Unifor, which represents more than 1,200 workers at 11 stores across Newfoundland, said Loblaw Companies Ltd. is offering workers buyout packages.

The goal is to eliminate 44 full-time positions within the grocery store giant, the statement says, and by doing so, "the company continues to exploit part-time workers to fill shifts."

"For the most part what we're seeing is what was initially full-time employment, full-time jobs, those duties are now being spread out over part-time employees. And it's really been an ongoing kind of erosion of full-time work at Loblaw over any number of years," said Lana Payne, Unifor's Atlantic director, Tuesday afternoon. 

The company, however, said the decision to eliminate roles was to "simplify operations."

"I think the public would probably be very surprised to know that upwards of 75 per cent," of the people Unifor represents at Dominion stores are classified as part-time, Payne told CBC Radio's On the Go. 

Payne said the company's move is to make more money, despite earning more than $800 million in profits last year. 

This is a Dominion grocery store in St. John's. The union that represents 1,200 Dominion grocery store workers at 11 stores in Newfoundland says Loblaw Companies Ltd. is attempting to have part-time employees work full-time hours. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"I think there's an expectation, I certainly have one, that corporations as big and as profitable as Loblaws are doing a little bit better here."

She said the union is encouraging people not to use self checkout lanes. It also plans to demand an audit of all department schedules to see if Loblaw is using part-time workers in a full-time capacity without treating them as such. 

"This can't go this far, people need to work, we need to have an economy with decent jobs in it so people can provide for their families," said Payne. 

Company offering buyouts

In a statement, Loblaw Companies Ltd. said the decision was made to "simplify our operations and to serve customers best."

"This has resulted in the elimination of some roles, changes to others in several departments including new opportunities for some."

The company said it hopes the changes can be made through voluntary buyouts and early retirements.

"We are working through those conversations with affected individuals." 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On the Go

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