UFCW makes big wage gains at Ontario grocery stores

New contract similar to that won through Metro strike in GTA  

PV staff  

Building off the strong wage gains won by 3700 workers at Metro stores in the Greater Toronto Area after a month-long strike last summer, nearly 26,000 grocery workers at Loblaw stores across Ontario ratified their own historic contract on January 2.

The Loblaw workers are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which began negotiations with Loblaw in November. The new agreement covers workers at 121 stores across the province.

UFCW said that full-time workers will receive a $4.60 per hour increase over the term of the agreement, while senior part-time workers will receive $3.70 on top of a $0.65 per hour increase in October 2023 for a total increase of $4.35 per hour.

The contract also includes improvements for full-time benefits, better scheduling and leave of absence protection for part-time workers, as well as improved bereavement leave and protection against customer abuse for all members.

The deal is similar to that won in the summer by Metro workers in the GTA, represented by Unifor, whose gains were described as “raising the floor” for grocery workers.

UFCW Local 1006A president Wayne Hanley called the new agreement “the best in decades” for the grocery sector. “We faced intense and difficult negotiations, but with the strong support and participation of our membership, we achieved an unprecedented level of improvements for our members in the grocery industry.”

The union says that full-time workers will make an estimated $36,000 more during the five-year agreement.

Large grocery corporations have made massive profits in recent years, with Loblaw reporting $18.3 billion in revenue for its third quarter ended October 7, and Metro reporting revenue of $5.1 billion for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2023, ending September 30. These represent revenue increases of 5 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

The significant gains achieved by both Metro and Loblaw workers indicate the importance of class struggle – without the Metro strike and widespread labour-community solidarity with grocery workers in general, it is unlikely that either would have won such wage increases from the most powerful grocery monopolies.

[Photo: UFCW 1006A]

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