TORONTO—The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has asked the Ministry of Labour to appoint a conciliator in its contract negotiations with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
The union hopes the help of a neutral third party will move talks forward, said Denise Davis, chair of the bargaining team for OPSEU’s Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED).
“The LCBO is demanding concessions at the bargaining table that are alarming. If accepted, these proposals will weaken the LCBO and that our members cannot and will not accept,” Ms. Davis said. “Our proposals are aimed at building a stronger LCBO.”
“The point of moving to conciliation is to make this employer realize that it’s time to start moving in the direction of an agreement,” said Ms. Davis.
Conciliation is an important step in bargaining; if it fails, either side can start the clock ticking towards a legal strike or lockout deadline.
The union has announced a province-wide strike vote for April 24 and 25.
Job security, scheduling, and health and safety are among several major concerns for the 7,500 LCBO staff represented by OPSEU.
“The context of this round of bargaining is being set at Queen’s Park with Premier Kathleen Wynn’s ill-advised plan to sell LCBO products in grocery stores,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “This is creeping privatization, and if it’s allowed to move ahead unchecked it will mean the end of the LCBO as we know it before too many years have gone by.”
“OPSEU members are fighting to save the LCBO, and we are asking all Ontarians to support our fight,” he said. “The LCBO is a public asset that funds all the public services we depend on, from home care to highways. We have to save it.”
The OPSEU collective agreement at the LCBO expired on March 31, 2017.