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Liquor Mart workers to return to work as strike action continues

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Manitoba Liquor Mart workers will return to work on Monday as strike action continues across the province.

On Sunday, the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) announced that there’s been no movement in negotiations, and that strike action will continue into the week ahead.

The union said that all MGEU members at liquor stores will return to work on Monday, while workers at the distribution centre and head office will remain on strike until 7 a.m. All members of the bargaining unit will also refuse overtime.

As part of the strike action, MGEU members at liquor stores will not perform the following duties:

- Receiving inventory from suppliers or distributors;

- Reviewing pallet sheets;

- Identifying product distribution for shelf stocking or warehousing;

- Signing off of receivables;

- Updating X-Store; and

- Disassembling or dismantling pallets.

In a statement, MGEU president Kyle Ross said these workers know they deserve a fair wage increase that keeps up with the high cost of living. Ross added that liquor workers have a starting wage of $14.91, while the minimum wage is increasing to $15.30 an hour this fall.

“Premier Stefanson is sticking to her restrictive wage mandate, rather than direct MBLL to bargain a fair deal matching the annual 3.3%, 3.6%, and 3.6% raises she has given herself,” he said.

“I will remind Premier Stefanson that her government’s heavy-handed legislation forced liquor workers to take annual wage increases of 0%, 0%, 0.75%, and 1% in their last contract. The cost of living spiked to nearly 8% in last year alone.”

In a statement, MBLL said it met with the MGEU and the conciliator on Sunday and that discussions were “productive.” MBLL added that it made an offer for the two parties to continue negotiations while halting the work stoppage, but said the MGEU declined to stop any strike actions.

The Crown corporation also said it asked the union to provide earlier notice in the day of upcoming strike actions, and says the MGEU has not yet responded.

"We are dismayed that the MGEU continues resorting to these tactics without regard for the way it complicates all Manitobans, including their own members’, ability to make summer plans,” said an MBLL spokesperson.

“Both of MBLL’s proposals offered a path to minimizing the ongoing impact on our customers, on hundreds of small Manitoba businesses, and on our valued employees while working our way to a mutually beneficial resolution.” 

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