October 7, 2013 8:40 am

UPDATE: Alberta Superstore employees reach tentative deal with Loblaw

CALGARY – Although striking workers continue to walk the picket line at Superstore locations throughout Alberta, officials say a tentative deal has been reached.

Nearly 9,000 employees walked off the job on Sunday, after negotiations with Superstore’s parent company Loblaw fell through.

United Food and Commercial Workers, the union which represents the employees, said in a statement on the union’s Facebook page that a deal has been struck.

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Despite the walkout, Loblaw continued to negotiate with the union, reaching a tentative agreement around 4:00 a.m. Monday morning.

UFCW 401 says the union negotiating committee is unanimously recommending the settlement and immediate arrangements will be made to give union members across the province a chance to vote on the deal.

They say ratification votes will take place as early as Tuesday, however, picketing will continue and Superstore employees are asked to maintain picket lines.

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According to the union’s statement, the new agreement will present union members with a number of “significant improvements over and above the company’s last offer.”

The primary concern for workers which prompted them to strike was a roll back in hours.

UFCW 401 says about 80 per cent of the workers are considered part-time and many depend on their hourly shifts to get by. Despite that, employees say Superstore continues to cut back hours.

“Over the last several years hours have been cut drastically in some areas,” Christine McMeckan, a spokesperson for UFCW 401, said. “Superstore doesn’t deny this. The company is continually saying that they’re doing it to cut costs. What we’re saying is the cost is too high. Workers can’t afford to make ends meet anymore and food safety issues arise as a result.”

“I used to work on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday afternoons, and they started eliminating my Monday, Tuesday afternoons,” said Darlene Taylor, a Superstore employee who was picketing in Edmonton Sunday morning.

Alberta Superstores remained open on Sunday, staffed by managers rather than employees.

As the details of the agreement are finalized, Superstore locations in Alberta will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. while the Liquorstore outlets will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

BELOW: Complete statement of tentative agreement from Loblaw:

Loblaw Companies Limited is pleased to announce that it has reached a tentative agreement with UFCW Canada Local 401 bargaining team representing approximately 8,500 colleagues from 55 Real Canadian Superstore® and Real Canadian Liquorstore® locations in Alberta. All Loblaw banner stores in Alberta remain open to service our loyal customers.

Voting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Loblaw reached tentative agreements with the leaderships of UFCW local 832 in Manitoba and UFCW local 1400 in Saskatchewan on Thursday, September 26, and on Thursday, Oct. 3, respectively.

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