What is really behind the LCBO workers’ strike?

                             Port Elgin LCBO staff walk the picket line – for larger view, click on image

LCBO staff across Ontario are now walking the picket line as the historic strike continues after negotiations broke down as of midnight on Thursday, July 4th.  As a result, LCBO stores across the province closed immediately for at least 14 days as more than 9,000 workers walked off the job.

In a media release by OPSEU (union) representing workers, OPSEU/SEFPO President J.P. Hornick said that, “Doug Ford wants to make life better for his wealthy friends. It’s why he’s wasting upwards of a billion dollars of our money to fast-track privatized alcohol sales and hand more of the public revenues generated by the LCBO over to the CEOs and big box grocery and convenience chains like Loblaws and Circle K.”

“We know that the LCBO is Ontario’s best kept secret – and we’re fighting to protect it,” added Colleen MacLeod, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED) and the Bargaining Team. “We’ve been very clear that we won’t back down in our fight for a strong future for the LCBO and the public services funded by LCBO revenues.”

In a vote, 86% of OPSEU members turned out, with 97% voting to strike.

Currently, 70% of LCBO workers are casual labour.  They don’t have guaranteed hours, which means most don’t have access to benefits and there aren’t opportunities to move into permanent part-time and full-time positions.

According to a worker on the Port Elgin picket line, who has been with the LCBO for approximately five years and has yet to be hired full-time, a casual worker must work 1300 hours to retain even partial benefits. Another worker was with the LCBO for 10 years before being hired as full-time.

According to McLeod, “This is not about wages.”

Hornick also said that there has been no community or public consultation by the government under Doug Ford for the decision to move ahead with licensing convenience and big-box stores to carry alcohol and ready-made spirit-based drinks.  “This is about retaining the $2.5 billion that the LCBO raises in the public coffer for health care and education.”

To listen to the full OPSEU presentation, CLICK HERE.

For larger view, Click on Image