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OPSEU tells LCBO their strike deadline

By Shelby Wye

The LCBO workers may be walking off the job this Friday, leaving customers dry this Victoria Day weekend.

LCBO and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) have been holding contract negotiations since their previous four-year contract ended on March 31.

Sheila Keenan, media relations officer for OPSEU in Toronto,said that the two organizations are negotiating the settlement every day, even using weekend hours to try and come to an agreement.

“There are intense negotiations,” said Keenan

The union says that outstanding issues include wages and benefits, job security and improvements to health and safety standards. Their primary concern is the difference in wages and hours between part time, and full time, staff of LCBO.

“It is not unusual for a union to have a strike vote during the collective bargaining process,” said Bob Peter, LCBO President & CEO. “Collective bargaining is scheduled to continue until mid-May. We’re looking forward to getting back to the bargaining table and working toward an agreement that is fair and in keeping with the economic realities and recent public sector agreements.”

Belleville’s branch is one of the many affected.

“We want a fair and reasonable settlement and we still think it can be done. It’s up to the LCBO to make their movement,” said Keenan.

LCBO workers have voted 95% in favour of a strike. If a settlement is not agreed on by Friday morning at 12:01 am, the workers will strike, said OPSEU officials in a press release.

The union has voted in favour of a strike before, when their contract ended in 2005 and 2009. However, the settlement was made before they were forced to strike. If they do strike this Friday, it will be the first time in the LCBO’s 87 year history.

“I didn’t say there won’t be a strike…but a settlement is possible,” said Keenan.