On the Picket Line

Dominion strike continues, as workers win solidarity

By Beverly Bernardo
November 16, 2020

Negotiations resumed Oct. 29 between Loblaw Companies Limited, which owns the Dominion grocery store chain, and Unifor Local 597, representing 1,400 workers on strike at Dominion stores in Newfoundland. These talks, the first since the strike began Aug. 22, ended the next day. “The company has not made a single improvement to their initial three-year offer,” Unifor spokesperson Chris MacDonald told the press.

The strike began after workers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s offer of a 1 Canadian dollar an hour wage increase (75 cents) over three years. In the middle of negotiations the company ended the CA$2 hourly wage increase it had earlier instituted as pandemic pay. Strikers are also demanding that more workers be made full time. Eighty percent of the workers are part time. Most earn only the minimum wage of CA$12.15 an hour.

On Oct. 26 the Newfoundland provincial Supreme Court granted an injunction against picketing at the Loblaw Distribution Centre, but refused to extend the injunction to other company-owned sites. On Oct. 28 strikers took down their picket line at the Loblaw-owned Weston Foods bakery in St. John’s after police threatened them with arrest, even though their picket line is not covered by the injunction.

The strikers are winning solidarity. “Your fight to reverse the pandemic wage rollback and for the right to full-time hours and decent wages deserves the support of working people everywhere,” members of International Association of Machinists Local 11 at Avcorp, an aircraft plant in Delta, British Columbia, wrote to strikers Oct. 21.

“This card is to show our support for the fight to get the $2,” a dozen members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 500 at the Cargill meat processing plant in Chambly, Quebec, wrote to strikers. “Wages are too low. They have to go up,” said one of many handwritten messages on the card.

Into their 11th week on strike, Dominion workers need more solidarity. Send messages of support and donations to Unifor Local 597, 301-55 Bond St., P.O. Box 922 Station C, St. John’s, NL A1C 5L7, Canada, or info@unifor597.ca.