Quebec liquor board workers stage one-day walkout as pressure tactic
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Quebec liquor board workers stage one-day walkout as pressure tactic

Last Updated Jul 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm EDT

A customer looks through the windows as liquor store employees walk the picket line in front of an SAQ outlet on the first day of their strike to press lagging contract negotiations, Tuesday, July 17, 2018 in Rosemere, Que.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – Employees at more than 400 Quebec Liquor Corp. outlets across the province held a one-day strike Tuesday in a bid to jump-start contract negotiations.

It was the first of six strike days their union has planned as pressure tactics against the Crown corporation.

The walkout affected most of the province’s liquor outlets, but management personnel was used to keep more than 60 outlets open.

In June, the unionized employees voted 91 per cent in favour of the one-day strikes that are to take place at the opportune moment.

The 5,500 workers have been without a contract since March 31, 2017, but negotiations have been ongoing for 16 months.

Previous talks took place in late June and last week and the union determined the resumption of the discussions Tuesday was a good time to launch the strike.

“The employer has moved a bit on its demands but it is not withdrawing its demands,” union president Katia Lelievre told The Canadian Press.

The issue of schedules and work hours is at the heart of the impasse, with the union saying the government wants employees with more experience to work evenings and weekends, which the union considers a major setback.

“There is no lack of employees on the weekend,” Lelievre said.

She said 70 per cent of employees work part-time and already do full weekends, while more than one-half of the 30 per cent of full-time employees work at least one day on the weekend.

In a statement, the liquor corporation said the 60-odd outlets that remained open were staffed by managers.

“The SAQ (the corporation) wants to simplify its work methods and is proposing solutions that will both meet its need for flexibility while responding to the union’s priorities and demands, especially when it comes to getting full-time jobs, ensuring the quality of schedules as well as increasing the number of guaranteed hours for part-time employees,” the statement said.

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