Tuesday, July 23, 2024

LCBO workers rally in Ottawa on day 2 of historic strike

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It’s the second day of the first-ever Liquor Control Board of Ontario strike after thousands of workers walked off the job on Friday when talks between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the government broke down.


Many workers gathered outside an LCBO warehouse in Ottawa on Saturday, with many raising concerns over the future of the provincially-controlled liquor store as the government plans to expand alcohol sales to convenience stores in September. Employees are also seeking better wages and job security.


“We’re on strike as long as we don’t get the deal that we’re looking for,” said Sean Spencer, the president of OPSEU SEFPO Local 499. “And we certainly hope that the government will come to the table.”


Stores are expected to close for at least 14 days, but customers can purchase their alcohol through LCBO convenience outlets in smaller communities and online orders.


Local breweries in Ottawa are also stocking up on product to prepare for more shoppers during the strike.


“We got about three weeks worth. We anticipate this to last maybe two weeks. So just to be safe, we got three weeks worth,” said Alex Sirois, the managing partner of Lowertown Brewery in the Byward Market.


Some people are opting to go dry altogether and picked up non-alcoholic beverages for the weekend at Knyota, a store in Ottawa that sells alcohol-free wine, beer and spirits.


“Even before the strike, we had a lot of people who would kind of be guided here by the LCBO people if they were looking for stuff that was non-alcoholic,” said Edin Aliji, a sales associate at the store on Bank Street.


As workers continue to walk the picket-line, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office said the government is not considering back-to-work legislation.


The Crown corporation has notified its wholesale customers that it will open five LCBO retail stores in unspecified locations on July 10 to allow for licensee in-store shopping by appointment.


It’s not clear if any of those locations are in Ottawa.

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