Toronto

Tentative contract agreement averts threatened strike by LCBO workers

A tentative contract agreement has been reached averting a strike by LCBO workers that was set to begin at midnight.

Some 8,000 LCBO workers, without a contract since March 31, have pushed for better hours, job security

A conciliator imposed a media blackout on the negotiations. (David Donnelly/CBC)

 A tentative contract agreement has been reached averting a strike by LCBO workers that was set to begin at midnight.

The agreement was signed shortly after the strike deadline passed, and was announced in a news release from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Union president Warren "Smokey" Thomas said details of the deal would not be released before union members have a chance to examine it over the next few days.

"We won't release the details until the members have it in their hands. It's the only fair thing to do," Thomas said early Monday.

A ratification vote has not yet been scheduled, but Thomas said the union's bargaining team is unanimously recommending members accept the deal. Information meetings with members will be held this week, he said, and the vote will likely follow after the Canada Day long weekend. 
Information meetings with members will be held this week on the tentative agreement and the vote will likely follow after the Canada Day long weekend. (LCBO)

"For the people of Ontario, thank you for your patience," Thomas said. "I'm sure those long lineups weren't much fun. The workers had their issues and they were able to address them and I think they'll be happy."

Thomas said the negotiations were "tough" and long hours were put in by the bargaining teams for both sides in the labour dispute.

He said the provincial election next year was a factor in a deal being reached. 

"The upcoming election had some effect. The premier is looking for labour peace," he said.

In a statement, the LCBO said the terms of the agreement will be presented by the union to employees for ratification. From there, it would go to the LCBO board and the provincial government for ratification. 
'In the interim period, there will be no labour disruption at LCBO stores and warehouses across the province,' the LCBO said in a statement. (David Donnelly/CBC)

"In the interim period, there will be no labour disruption at LCBO stores and warehouses across the province."

The agreement was negotiated with the help of a mediator who imposed a media blackout on the talks.

The 8,000 unionized LCBO workers have been without a contract since March 31, and voted 93 per cent in favour of a strike in April.

The LCBO had extended store hours for its outlets the past couple of days to allow customers more time to stock up in case there was a job action.

The union has previously said about 80 per cent of the organization's workers are part-time and many have worked for years without benefits.

The LCBO countered, saying the company's workers are some of the best paid in the retail industry.

At issue in the labour dispute, according to OPSEU, was shift scheduling, health and safety, and the number of part-time workers. 

With files from CBC News

now