WINNIPEG, Manitoba (FNS) -- Management of 18 Westfair-owned superstores and Extra Foods supermarkets here has reached an agreement with more than 2,000 workers for a new contract.
The deal averts a feared repeat of a brutal four-month strike in 1987.
Eighty-six percent of workers voted to ratify the contract. "It's pretty solid approval," United Food and Commercial Workers union spokesman Don Keith said, noting the new contract was for six years. David Ryzebol, communications director at Westfair, said the retailer was "particularly satisfied with the assurance of six-year labor peace."
The main issue in bargaining was work hours, due to the fact that about 92% of Westfair's Winnipeg staff has been part-time, including cashiers, shelf-stockers, butchers and bakers. Most of these workers, Keith said, logged less than 15 hours a week.
The new contract provides more hours for part-timers and lifting of an "annoying" schedule of coffee breaks within an hour of the start or end of a shift, Keith added.
In the new contract, Westfair became the first supermarket chain in Canada to agree to provide sick-leave pay for part-timers. Keith said the contract also includes no layoffs for full-time employees, 18 to 24 hours of guaranteed work for one-third of part-timers and wage increases of between 60 cents and $2.25 (Canadian). Previously, part-timer wages ranged from $7.50 to $16 an hour, averaging about $11.