“Those of us standing on a picket line for nine weeks, we’re here to say that we are fed up with this company taking our full-time jobs away,” Dawn Hanames told an Oct. 22 rally of striking Dominion grocery workers, outside the Loblaw distribution center in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Hanames has worked at Dominion for 30 years, first as a part-time worker and then full time.
“One day longer, one day stronger!” the strikers chanted outside the center, which supplies Dominion and other stores owned by Loblaw.
Eighty percent of the workers at the company are part time, and more than half earn the provincial minimum wage of 12.15 Canadian dollars an hour ($9.24).
The strike by 1,400 Unifor Local 597 members began Aug. 22 after workers overwhelmingly rejected company bosses’ offer of CA$1 an hour wage increase over three years. Workers are demanding higher wages, more full-time jobs and better benefits.
The rally took place days before the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court was due to hear an injunction requested by bosses to block workers from picketing the Mount Pearl facility.
Now into their 10th week on the picket line, Unifor Local 597 members will keep their line up and decide their next steps once the court decides, union lead negotiator Chris MacDonald said.
“This isn’t just about 1,400 workers fighting. It’s about us acknowledging a broken system that is failing workers. I say to Galen Weston, see us, hear us because we’re not going anywhere,” Carolyn Wrice, Local 597 president, told the rally. Weston, one of the richest capitalists in Canada, owns Loblaw.
“We have been watching the news about your struggle,” read a letter sent by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1777 in solidarity with the grocery store workers. The CUPE local represents workers in Social Planning Toronto and sent a check for CA$100 to the Dominion workers’ strike fund. CUPE Local 15 in Vancouver also sent a letter of solidarity and a contribution of CA$1,000 to the strikers.
Dominion workers need more solidarity in their fight to push back the bosses’ attacks. Messages of support and donations should be sent to Unifor Local 597, 301-55 Bond St., P.O. Box 922 Station C, St. John’s, NL A1C 5L7, Canada, or firstname.lastname@example.org.