Twenty-seven Metro grocery stores have closed in the GTA after thousands of workers walked off the job after rejecting a tentative deal with the company.
Unifor, which represents 3,700 grocery employees at the 27 GTA Metro locations, announced the strike on Friday night.
“This decision to go on strike comes after years of these workers being nickelled and dimed while facing increased precarity and eroded job quality. It comes after having pandemic pay stripped away. It comes at a time of record profits and soaring CEO compensation. It comes at a time when life has become simply unaffordable for so many of these workers who risked their health and safety during the pandemic,” said Lana Payne, Unifor’s national president, in a statement. “We brought the tentative agreement to our members because it contained considerable gains, but our members are clear that it simply isn’t enough.”
Picket lines formed at 8 a.m. at stores across the province, including locations in Toronto, Brantford, Orangeville, Milton, Oakville, Brampton, North York, Islington, Willowdale, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Newmarket and Scarborough.
“You know the system is broken when frontline workers can’t afford food, rent, or gas,” said Gord Currie, president of Unifor Local 414. “Frontline grocery workers at Metro deserve the utmost respect, especially after working tirelessly through the pandemic.”
A Metro grocery store is seen in Toronto, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
In a statement, Metro confirmed that all 27 stores will be closed for the duration of the strike. It noted that pharmacies will remain open.
The grocer said it was “extremely disappointed” that its workers chose to strike.
“The company has been negotiating with the union for the past few weeks and reached a fair and equitable agreement that meets the needs of our employees and our customers while ensuring that Metro remains competitive. The settlement provided significant increases for employees in all four years of the agreement, as well as pension and benefits improvements for all employees, including part-time employees,” the statement read.
Unifor will provide further updates on strike action on Saturday morning at 10:30.
With files from The Canadian Press and Bryann Aguilar
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