"Industrial peace" at stake in British Columbia
NEW WESTMINSTER, BC, April 4, 2018 /CNW/ - British Columbia's Minister of Labour Harry Bains has appointed Vince Ready as special officer in the ongoing dispute between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys, owner of about 60 Safeway stores across the province.
Minister Bains made the appointment after President Ivan Limpright asked the government to intervene when negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement between the union and Sobeys stalled last month.
"We came fully prepared to negotiate improvements to the collective agreement. We tabled solutions that would benefit both our members and the company," commented President Limpright. "But Sobeys failed to respond to even one of our proposals and we reached an impasse."
UFCW 1518 represents about 4500 Safeway workers in BC.
According to Minister Bains, the objective of the appointment of a special officer is to "further industrial peace." Bains advised Ready that under Section 106 of the BC Labour Relations Code he is empowered to "make recommendations or any order necessary or advisable" as well as "to arbitrate the dispute or differences."
Ready is a well known mediator and arbitrator with extensive experience in the retail food industry. His appointment to resolve or decide the union's differences with Sobeys signals the Minister of Labour's concern over the potential loss of jobs and negative impact on the economy.
President Limpright said he took the extraordinary step of appealing to the Minister because of gravity of the situation. "Talks had stalled and Sobeys wanted to fast track to final offer selection arbitration without bargaining with us. That wouldn't have been in the best interest of our members," he explained. "In the meantime, our members are losing their jobs due to store closures and Sobeys is trying to demote people unjustly. I had to ask the Minster to intervene."
The bungled purchase of Canada Safeway by Sobeys' has led to a string of serious problems for the company and union members, including the company's attempt to piggyback the introduction of a discount banner into the BC market onto contract negotiations and the closure of 10 Safeway locations.
In February, the union filed an illegal lockout complaint with the BC Labour Relations Board in response to the store closure announcement. UFCW 1518 also filed grievances against Sobeys for improperly denying the union's request of right of first refusal to purchase the stores slated for closure; unjust demotions related to the store closures; and improper scheduling.
"We're defending our members' rights on all fronts" explained President Limpright. "This is a complex battle in uncharted territory, so we're making sure to use every option available."
For more information please visit: www.ufcw1518.com/sobeys.
SOURCE United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518
For further information: Media contact: Kate Milberry, Communications Specialist, UFCW 1518, 604.329.1272 or [email protected]