Union 'appalled' at Manitoba grocery stores for not recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The union representing some of Manitoba grocery store workers says it is “appalled” by Loblaw and Sobeys decisions to not recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday for their 6,000 Manitoba employees.
“Because this holiday was not proclaimed by the provincial government, many workers in Manitoba will not get the day off,” said Jeff Traeger, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 832, on Thursday.
“It will not be treated like a stat holiday…apparently Loblaw and Sobeys are more interested in making money than they are interested in doing the right thing.”
The new holiday, set to take place on Sept. 30, is intended to give people the opportunity to recognize the history and trauma caused by residential schools.
Because the province has not proclaimed the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday, private companies are not obligated to give their employees the day off or provide extra pay for those working on the holiday.
Traeger said it’s not just about another statutory holiday, but giving people an opportunity to observe a day that is, “meant to bring the truth forward and begin the process of reconciliation,”
“In our view, these employers that we’ve talked about, Sobeys and Loblaw, have made a conscious decision not to be a part of that history,” he said.
“And a conscious decision to put their need to make the almighty buck above the need to be good community partners and show through action that they believe in a concept like reconciliation.”
Earlier in the month, the Province of Manitoba said it would observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, closing schools and non-essential government services for the day.
Traeger noted that this poses childcare issues for some grocery store workers who will have to work, while their kids have the day off.
“It’s just a little piece that gets missed by people is that childcare is a big issue,” he said.
The union added that other private businesses, such as Red River Co-op, are granting their employees the stat holiday.
In a statement, a spokesperson from Loblaw said that provincially regulated businesses are not expected to close on federally regulated holidays.
“That said, the purpose of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is to recognize and reflect on the continued impacts of residential schools and honour Indigenous survivors, their families and communities and we have taken a number of steps to support our colleagues to do this on September 30 and every day,” the statement said.
A spokesperson from Sobeys said the company always operates within the law, and if the province mandates a stat holiday, it will support it.
The statement noted that on a national level, Sobeys is recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by encouraging team members to wear orange shirts on Sept. 30 in order to raise awareness about “the importance of acknowledging the terrible tragedies within the residential school systems across Canada.”
The spokesperson added that Sobeys is expanding its community relationships and support of Indigenous communities through employment, training, education and awareness.
“We are also working on expanding Indigenous product procurement through the Progress Aboriginal Relations certification program in partnership with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business,” the statement said.
- With files from CTV’s Katherine Dow and Jon Hendricks.
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