Metro union rejects offer, opts to strike

by Emily Atkins

Metro and Unifor Local 414 reached a tentative agreement in contract negotiations, but the 900 workers at the Metro DC in Etobicoke, Ontario, rejected it and have gone on strike.

The distribution centre supplies Metro and Food Basics grocery stores across southern Ontario along the Kingston – Windsor corridor.

Unifor announced the deal on April 1, and its bargaining committee recommended the union vote in favour. However, the deal was rejected, and workers walked off the job.

“The bargaining committee focused on the priorities of the membership in these negotiations and we’re pleased to bring them a tentative agreement that achieves significant gains,” said Frank Reynolds, Unifor Local 414 Unit chairman in a statement on April 1.

Metro said the settlement provided “significant increases” for employees, including an increase of six percent on average to hourly wages in the first year of the agreement and a total of 14 percent wage increase over four years, as well as pension and benefits improvements.

“We are disappointed with the employees’ decision to strike but remain ready to go back to the table. We have implemented our contingency plan and our stores will remain open to serve our customers,” said Carmen Fortino, executive vice-president, Ontario division head and national supply chain, Metro Ontario Inc.

Metro operates a network of 950 food stores under several banners including Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics, as well as 650 drugstores primarily under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Food Basics Pharmacy banners. It employs more than 90,000 people.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers across the country.