Quebec cannabis corporation workers walk off the job in one-day strike

Quebec cannabis corporation workers walk off the job in one-day strike

A person walks into an SQDC (Societe quebecoise du cannabis) store in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Employees of the Quebec cannabis corporation are staging a one-day walkout at about 15 branches.

By Clara DescurningesThe Canadian Press

Sat., June 18, 20221 min. read

Article was updated 15 hrs ago

MONTREAL – Employees of the Quebec cannabis corporation staged a one-day walkout at 13 branches Saturday.

The strike marks the third of five walkout days voted on by union members June 5, and comes on the weekend of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal, when stores are particularly busy.

The only branch closed as of Saturday afternoon was in Quebec City’s Sainte-Foy neighbourhood, as managers handled services at the other dozen, the Crown corporation said in an email.

Maxime Nadeau, president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, said the strike relates to stalled negotiations around wages. Employees’ starting rate is $17.12 an hour, climbing to $21.23 an hour after eight years on the job, he said.

“We have a ridiculous salary offer on the table, even insulting, so we obviously are asking for parity with the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec),” he said in a phone interview.

Nadeau quoted Premier François Legault, who warned on June 12 that amid the ongoing labour shortage “companies that are not able to pay salaries higher than $15 or $20 (per hour) are going to have trouble.”

The union, which represents about 200 employees spread across 16 branches of the government-owned cannabis retailer, intentionally chose a weekend “when traffic is very high” to launch the labour action, Nadeau added in a release.

Known as the SQDC, Quebec’s cannabis corporation said in an email it “fully recognizes the right of employees to exercise pressure tactics in the context of the negotiations in progress.“

“The corporation remains available to continue negotiations and our wish is to reach a negotiated agreement to the satisfaction of the parties concerned.”

The SQDC, a subsidiary of the SAQ, is responsible for the distribution and sale of marijuana products in Quebec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2022.

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