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Cannabis workers at Gatineau branch of SQDC asked back to work after strike ruled illegal

Aug 30, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Strike reportedly initiated without the local union sending the employer a notice to bargain, a violation of the province’s labour code

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Cannabis workers at western Gatineau, Que., branch of the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) have been asked to return to work after their strike was found to be in violation of the province’s labour code.

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The workers began the strike on Aug. 16, reports CBC.

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  1. The general strike began on May 20. /

    More than 300 cannabis retail workers in Quebec go on strike

  2. FILE - B.C. General Employees' Union workers set up a picket line after going on strike at a B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centre in Delta.

    Some cannabis retailers are feeling the impact of B.C. strike

  3. A public workers strike is impacting the supply of legal marijuana to B.C's cannabis retailers.

    B.C. public workers strike is choking off legal cannabis supply and killing pot shops

In May, more than 300 cannabis retail workers in Quebec, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), began a general strike.

Union members are calling for salaries and benefits similar to those working in other comparable state corporations, including the Quebec Liquor Corp. (SAQ).

“These SQDC workers barely earn $17/hour upon hiring and the majority have no full-time position or job security, which puts them in an untenable precarious position,” according to a CUPE statement.

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According to CBC, the strike at the Aylmer branch of the SQDC was initiated without the local union, CUPE 5454, sending the employer a notice to bargain that complied with the requirements of the province’s labour code.

The Quebec government’s Tribunal administratif du travail has also determined the strike to be illegal. The ruling means that the store employees won’t be eligible to strike again until Oct. 25.

In July, CUPE noted that the strike was continuing after two months and employees are still fighting for a fair wage.

“When you work at SQDC, you must have a second job to make ends meet,” said David Clément, president of CUPE 5454.

“The employer still refuses to listen to our concerns and to negotiate our salary in good faith. We are concerned about the poverty that our employer, a successful Crown corporation, is keeping us in,” added Clément.

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According to that release, SQDC workers expect an offer that is close to $56,000 a year.

CUPE represents union members who work in 26 branches across the province. The province-run SQDC operates nearly 100 locations across the province. In February, union members voted 91 per cent in favour of initiating pressure tactics that could go as far as an indefinite general strike at the time deemed appropriate. The main demands were scheduling, wages, team leader positions and transfers between outlets.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) strike has now entered its third week and the province’s licensed cannabis retailers are feeling the impacts.

Jaclynn Pehota, executive director of the Retail Cannabis Council of B.C. (RCCBC,) told the National Post that about 50 stores have closed.

“We’re going to be looking at between 50 and 70 per cent of private retailers closing their doors in B.C. due to product shortages,” Pehota said.

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