Windsor

Ontario grocery store beer sales should lead to better jobs, Unifor says

The added responsibility of selling of beer in grocery stores should lead to more, better-paying full-time jobs claims Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union.

Premier Kathleen Wynne insists staff at all stores is fully trained in the safe sale of beer

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, left, smiles as she buys beer at a Toronto Loblaws on Tuesday morning along Finance Minister Charles Sousa, right. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

The added responsibility of selling of beer in grocery stores should lead to more, better-paying full-time jobs claims Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union.

"As beer sales roll out in supermarkets across Ontario, Unifor demands stores offer opportunities to improve jobs and working conditions in the retail sector," a statement issued by the union reads, in part.

"Workers in retail, including grocery stores, face significant challenges around minimum hours of work, notice of shifts and schedule changes, and they experience low wages," Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in the statement. "With this new power to sell beer, employers have a responsibility to address precarious working conditions and create good jobs for the project to flourish."

The union has concerns about health and safety issues, work schedules and part-time hours.

"With the introduction of beer products and added responsibilities, including Smart Serve certification, alcohol handling, and checking ID, the union expects part-time jobs to be converted into full-time, and that fair compensation be awarded," Keith Osborne, Unifor's retail and wholesale industry director said in the statement.

Unifor is one of the country's largest retail worker unions, with more than 20,000 members working in supermarkets, pharmacies, appliance stores, and other retail shops across Canada. 

Allowing beer to be sold in grocery stores takes place "amidst an ongoing conversation about the need for good jobs in Ontario, especially in the supermarket sector," the union's media release said.

CBC has asked for comment from Loblaws, one of 13 retailers now licensed to sell beer in select grocery stores across Ontario.

Until now, beer has primarily been sold to Ontario consumers through Beer Store outlets and LCBO stores.

Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne insisted staff at all stores is fully trained in the safe sale of beer.

For example, 38 cashiers at the Real Canadian Superstore on Walker Road in Windsor are Smart Serve certified, so far.

The Smart Serve Responsible Alcohol Beverage Service Training Program is approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and is designed to provide safe sales of alcohol.

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