TEMISCAMING, QC, Dec. 14, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - This evening 30 unionized
employees of the Provigo grocery store in Temiscaming - who were locked
out from their jobs a year ago tomorrow - prepare for another difficult
Christmas by marking the anniversary with a community supper.
The employees of this border town in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region
have been without a valid collective agreement since April 2012. There
have been no negotiations since August 14, despite many requests by the
Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs du Provigo Témiscaming - CSN
to continue bargaining talks.
Aware of the social impact of the decision by the giant grocery chain
Loblaw on the 2500 residents of Temiscaming, over the past year the CSN
has organized a shuttle - operated by the union's locked-out members -
to North Bay, Ontario, so that locals may do their grocery shopping
"It is unthinkable that a corporation worth billions could be so callous
over its social responsibility to the town and toward its own
employees," commented CSN Vice-President Denise Boucher during a press
conference in Temiscaming today. "The local economic impact is
enormous, but it appears that Loblaw's greed has no limit."
Refusal to negotiate
Except for a few minor points, Loblaw negotiators have had only one word
to say to the union's reasonable principal demands: no. Loblaw refuses
to create more full-time positions for long-time employees. In fact,
more than 70% of the Temsicaming Provigo's employees work part-time,
and this for a top hourly wage of $12.40.
"This bulldozer approach at the negotiating table does not reflect well
on an employer with Loblaw's means," deplored Serge Fournier, president
of the Fédération du commerce - CSN. "However, we are all aware of the
tragic deaths of workers subcontracted by Loblaw in Bangladesh to
manufacture clothes for the company's Joe Fresh brand. So we ask
ourselves if these are the working conditions Loblaw would like to
import to Quebec."
For the president of the Conseil central
d'Abitibi-Témiscamingue-Nord-du-Québec, (CCATNQ-CSN), Donald Rheault,
Loblaw must get back to work and return to the table with a real
mandate to negotiate. The local economy is suffering from Loblaw's
intransigence, despite an agreement between the CSN and Temiscaming
Chamber of Commerce during public meetings to privilege local
purchasing as much as possible.
"Loblaw has for a long time profited from owning the only grocery store
in Temiscaming. It is astonishing that the company can show so much
contempt, not only for its own employees, but also for its faithful
customers. It is time that this powerful corporation recognizes that
reasonable salaries and acceptable working conditions are an honourable
exchange for the monopolistic profits it takes from the community of
Conflicts without end
The lock out in Temsicaming is not the only labour conflict that Loblaw
has provoked in the region. On June 10, workers at the Rouyn-Noranda
Loblaws declared a legal strike over an unacceptable final contract
offer. These workers have been without a collective agreement since
November 1, 2012.
On June 27, the Quebec labour relations board ruled that Loblaw had
interfered in union activities, negotiated in bad faith and infringed
the workers' right to freedom of association. Among many other
measures, the board ordered Loblaw to pay the union $5,000 in punitive
To this dispute can be added the lock out that Loblaw imposed on
Rouyn-Noranda's Maxi workers in August 2012.
A difficult Christmas
Cathy Pressault, the Temiscaming Provigo union president and an employee
for 22 year, observed that, for a second Christmas in a row, her
members' cupboards will be far from full.
"We know there is a cost to our determination to fight for respect from
our employer," she said. "But we remain united in solidarity in our
struggle with Loblaw. This employer can take away our income, but it
has no right to our dignity. With the support of the CSN, we will
For further information:
Cathy Presseault, president, STT Provigo Témiscaming: 819-627-6032
Donald Rheault, president, Conseil central d'Abitibi-Témiscamingue-Nord-du-Québec: 819 444-7357
Lyle Stewart, CSN communications service: 514 796-2066