Loblaw secures 1 injunction against striking Dominion workers, loses dozens others

·3 min read
Cecil Haire/CBC
Cecil Haire/CBC

Loblaw Companies Limited has been granted an injunction prohibiting striking Dominion employees from picketing at a Mount Pearl distribution centre but has also lost dozens more.

Striking Dominion employees claimed victory Monday despite being hit with an injunction that prohibits them from picketing at the Loblaw distribution centre in Donovans Business Park.

That's because Loblaw Companies Limited lost dozens more injunctions filed to prevent striking employees from picketing at about 50 other locations either owned by or connected to the company.

Picketers shifted spaces overnight on Monday from the distribution centre to Weston Bakeries, owned by Loblaw and the Weston family.

"You got to love it. It's given us an opportunity to say to the company, 'Look, come back. We want to get this done and over with,'" said Carolyn Wrice, president of Unifor Local 597, which represents 1,400 Dominion employees across 11 stores in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We're going to stay here as long as we got to. We're ready to stay. I'm happy about the decision, very happy, and so are my members behind me."

Wrice said members on the picket line outside Weston Bakeries are not preventing people from entering or leaving the property.

2nd injunction

Workers have been on strike since August — after the company ended a $2-an-hour wage increase for essential workers, implemented during the pandemic — calling for more full-time jobs. The union says more than 80 per cent of Dominion workers are part time and 60 full-time jobs were converted into part-time positions last year.

In August the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court granted the company an injunction that prohibited strikers from blocking entrances and exits to Dominion grocery stores.

Bruce Tilley/CBC
Bruce Tilley/CBC

In Monday's court application, Loblaw sought to prohibit picketing at 30 Shoppers Drug Mart locations, three No Frills stores, three independent grocers, the company's wholesale club store, the distribution centre and other locations.

"You never know what the future holds in the next few days, where we'll pop up," said Wrice. "Of course, this was a surprise for the company, I'm sure, this morning."

The company also asked the court to limit picket line numbers to four people, but the union says the judge denied that request.

'We've been waiting too long'

Chris MacDonald, assistant to Unifor national president Jerry Dias and lead negotiator for Dominion workers, told CBC News both sides have to get back to the bargaining table.

"The company is never going to resolve this issue in court. It's not going to be decided by the courts. Labour disputes are resolved at the bargaining table," he said.

"They can take us to court all they want, but, frankly, that's not where this is getting resolved."

MacDonald said Unifor called the conciliation officer on Monday to request both parties reconvene. He said the union's bargaining committee is coming to St. John's on Tuesday and is prepared to meet with Loblaw and work out a deal. But, MacDonald added, the company has not indicated to him that it is prepared to move on its offer.

"We've been waiting too long. We've got to get back to the table. If it takes us putting forward an offer I'm going to talk to our committee tomorrow and see how that goes," he said.

CBC News has asked Loblaw's Atlantic director of corporate affairs for comment.

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