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Friday, July 12, 2024
Striking LCBO workers hit the picket line in NOTL
From left, LCBO employees Karen Williams, Diana McIlroy and Carly Bezanson walk the picket line in front of NOTL's Queen Street location on Sunday afternoon. RICHARD WRIGHT

Striking LCBO workers were out in force on Sunday, July 7 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

A small but vocal group of employees from NOTL and Niagara Falls took to the picket line in front of the Queen Street location, waving signs and connecting with passersby after officially walking off the job two days earlier, on Friday.

Employees began the job action after talks between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the government broke down primarily over the issue of expansion of alcohol sales to private retailers such as grocery and corner stores.

OPSEU believes the increased competition for the LCBO will mean substantial revenue losses for the government-operated stores, resulting in even more precarious working conditions for casual LCBO workers who, according to the union, make up to 70 per cent of the outlet’s workforce.

“I do not have any guaranteed hours, I have no benefits, no sick days, no vacation days,” said casual worker and picketer Carly Bezanson, who works at the Queen Street outlet.

“I have to be available pretty much all weekends but I won’t necessarily be scheduled all weekends so I can’t find a second job that needs me there on those weekends,” she said in an interview.

“And it takes well over 10 years (of seniority) to get full-time,” she added.

Bezanson warns that the government’s decision to broaden privatized alcohol sales will not only affect LCBO workers, but all Ontarians.

“We are fighting for a better Ontario,” she said.

“Right now all of our (LCBO) money goes to public services like health care, education, housing, public infrastructure and social programs.”

“Doug Ford wants to make sure that the money goes into his billionaire friends’ pockets instead.”

The answer to the current disruption in LCBO services, she added, is for the government to come to its senses and start thinking about how an expanded LCBO and the money it contributes to public services, is good for everyone in the province.

“Instead of selling the LCBO, why don’t we grow the LCBO?” she said.

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