Union Angered with News of Impending Metro Supermarket Layoffs

August 16, 2013, 12:45 PM EST

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The CAW, which represents nearly 8,000 Metro supermarket workers across Ontario, says it is angered and frustrated with the recent company announcement that 15 Ontario stores will be either closed, or reorganized under a lower-wage discount banner.

"I find it very concerning that this company would think it good practice to send out a blanket public warning to thousands of its employees that their jobs could be lost," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "Our members already work in some of the most insecure and unstable jobs in the country, and this sort of callousness just makes things worse."

News of the closings came on the heels of the company's latest quarterly report, released on August 14, with company CEO Eric La Fleche citing increased cost competition as the main factor - an argument, Lewenza said, that simply doesn't hold water.

"Metro has been one of the most consistently profitable retail outfits in the entire country over the past years, and have held those profits despite increased competition, including from Wal-Mart," Lewenza said. "It's incredibly frustrating to see this success translate into job losses and lower wages for Ontario workers, most of who work part-time."

CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor said the union will be watching closely as the company makes its decisions on which stores will close and which will be converted. She said retailers should not be allowed to abuse store banner conversions, especially when workers are laid off only to be rehired by the same company, to do the same job, at less money and with no seniority.

"Unlike manufacturers who threaten to ship jobs overseas for lower wages, retailers keep the stores here but simply switch banners and it amounts to the same thing: a driving down of wages and benefits," Connor said.

"Just because a worker is asked to wear a different coloured shirt and hat, doesn't mean they should have their wages and seniority cut. This is a terrible practice that's helped turn historically good retail jobs into more precarious jobs, and it has to stop."

The CAW represents more than 20,000 retail sector workers across Canada. CAW Local 414, the union's largest local, represents 14,000 service sector workers across the province of Ontario.

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