'This has to stop': MBLL announces new security measures after serious attack on employees
WINNIPEG – An “unprovoked attack” on three Manitoba Liquor Mart employees has led Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries to shut down the store it happened in, the organization said late Wednesday, announcing new security measures.
Manny Atwal, president and CEO of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, said an attack Wednesday at the Tyndall Park Liquor Mart left three employees injured, with one of them taken to hospital.
Police got the call around 3:45 p.m.
Atwal said the employees were physically assaulted in an “unprovoked attack.” Atwal said this Liquor Mart would be closed until further notice.
The attack prompted Atwal, along with a number of officials from the organization, to make a late night statement on Wednesday about some major changes coming to Manitoba Liquor Marts.
“Our employees should not feel unsafe at work. They should not be subject to threats of harm or attempt of harm by anyone. They should not have to come to work everyday wondering how many times somebody will threaten them or how many times somebody will try to harm them or harm one of our customers,” said Atwal. “Our customers should not feel unsafe when shopping at our Liquor Marts – this has to stop.”
Atwal said construction on a new security entrance is already underway at the Tyndall Park location. Doors to the Liquor Mart will be locked. To gain entrance, customers will have to show a valid piece of photo ID.
While Tyndall Park is just the first store to get this new security feature, Atwal said it will be rolled out to Liquor Marts across the province.
“For well over a year, Liquor Marts have been under siege,” Atwal said. “We have tried numerous tactics to try and address this issue, but it is clear to us that more drastic measures must be taken.”
Atwal said MBLL did not want to have to impose the new security measure which he said would impact the customers experience but the rash of violent thefts gave the Crown corporation no other choice.
“While we absolutely regret having to impose these measures – we have been left with no choice in order to protect our employees and our customers.”
Atwal said more information regarding the new security entrance initiative would be coming soon.
MGEU SAYS SITUATION IS OUT OF CONTROL
“This situation is completely out of control, not just in our Liquor Marts, but also in private retail stores too,” said Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union, in a written statement. “We welcome the Secure Entrance Initiative from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, but this crisis is bigger than Liquor Marts. This is a Manitoba crisis that calls for urgent provincial leadership.”
Gawronsky said the MGEU is appealing to the province to bring all the key players to the table for what she called an “urgent summit of law enforcement, addictions and social services, public and private retailers, unions, and the provincial government.”
“It's going to take all of us working together to get this crisis under control.”
She said the union’s thoughts are with the members who were assaulted and injured today while doing their jobs.
MBLL WARNS CUSTOMERS NOT TO GET INVOLVED
Atwal said it’s been hard to miss the videos swirling around social media of countless thefts happening across the province. Atwal urged customers not to get involved.
“We know you feel a sense of ownership with our Liquor Marts. We understand you find it difficult to stand by and watch while these thefts are happening,” Atwal said. “But intervening either physically or by taking photos or video can actually result in the incident escalating, putting everyone in the store in a much more dangerous situation. it is simply not worth the risk.”
Atwal called on all levels of government, as well as all employees of MBLL, and all customers in Winnipeg to deal with the rampant theft problem by addressing the societal issues.
“These rampant thefts that we and other Winnipeg retailers have been experiencing are a symptom of a much larger societal issue in Manitoba,” Atwal said. “As Manitobans we all have a stake in this issue and tonight I ask that we all come together to begin to address and solve this problem. This affects all of us.”
THOUGHTS WITH THE VICTIMS OF ASSAULT
Atwal also thanked the Winnipeg Police Service for its continued support.
“They have and continue to play a critical role in addressing this issue.”
Atwal also acknowledged liquor store employees.
“I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all of our Liquor Mart employees who continue to do an exceptional job in providing service to our customers during these very difficult times.”
Read Atwal's full statement below: