CALGARY, Alberta (FNS) -- Bracing for an expected strike of some 11,000 unionized employees in its 83 Alberta supermarkets, Canada Safeway is recruiting as many as 10,000 replacement workers with half-page ads in Calgary and Edmonton newspapers.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has also taken out ads charging "betrayal" of workers "who gave up $60 million [Canadian] in wages and benefits to help save the company's Alberta division in 1993."
Doug O'Halloran, union president, claims that despite helping Safeway reorganize in Alberta, "Workers have not shared in the company's subsequent success -- with a profit this year approaching $1 billion."
O'Halloran said UFCW members' strike vote was scheduled for last Friday and that members had been urged to deliver a "strong strike mandate." He said no further negotiations with management would ensue until after the vote.
Toby Oswald, Canada Safeway's vice president of public relations, insists that the company has recognized sacrifices made by Alberta employees, "and continues to do so in its contract offer." She said in an interview the company has offered wage increases of up to $1.15 Canadian an hour in a five-year contract that would include bonuses and lump-sum payments of $1,350 Canadian.
Oswald said Safeway had made three offers, "none of which has received a counter-offer from the union." The average Safeway employee currently earns $14.28 Canadian per hour, but the company's cost is $21 Canadian when pension and medical benefits are factored in, she said.