On the Picket Line

3,700 Toronto-area workers strike Metro grocery stores

By Susan Berman
and Toni Gorton
August 21, 2023

TORONTO — Workers at 27 Metro grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area walked off the job July 29 after voting down a proposed contract. The strike includes 3,700 clerks, cashiers, department managers, and pharmacy and Starbucks staff. They are members of Unifor Local 414.

Full-time workers’ wages average $22.60 an hour, and part-timers — some 70% of the workforce — get $16.62. Pickets at a Metro store here told the Militant that “courtesy clerks,” who round up shopping carts and clean washrooms, get $2 less an hour. According to the Ontario Living Wage Network, it takes a minimum of $23.15 an hour to live in Toronto.

“This decision to go on strike comes after years of these workers being nickelled and dimed while facing increased precarity and eroded job quality. It comes after having pandemic pay stripped away. It comes at a time of record profits and soaring CEO compensation,” Lana Payne, Unifor national president, said in a union press release.

The Canadian government’s Competition Bureau released a study reporting that the three biggest retail grocery chains — Metro, Loblaws, and Sobeys — had $3.6 billion in profits last year.

“Some of our members are eating at the food bank,” Kim Coughlin, a Metro employee of 23 years, told the Toronto Star. “They can’t afford to live, can’t afford to pay rent, while these grocery barons are getting raises.”

Join the picket lines! Send messages of support to 414contact@uniforlocal414.ca.