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Union sets up strike headquarters outside LCBO head office days before deadline

Click to play video: 'Ontario residents stock up before possible LCBO strike' Ontario residents stock up before possible LCBO strike
Wed, Jun 21: Customers are stocking up at LCBOs across the province before a possible strike Monday. In anticipation of the deadline, the agency is extending hours at hundreds of stores. Ashley Carter reports – Jun 21, 2017

The union representing LCBO staff has set up strike headquarters outside the Crown corporation’s head office in downtown Toronto just days before a possible work disruption.

LCBO stores across Ontario have already extended hours in advance of a potential strike and to accommodate those celebrating Canada Day.

LCBO employees are in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 26 if a labour deal isn’t reached by then.

“I think if they go on strike, they’ll stay out as long as it takes,” OPSEU president Warren “Smokey” Thomas said during a press conference Thursday. “But again, we don’t want to strike, we want to bargain a contract.”

READ MORE: LCBO extends store hours in advance of possible work stoppage

The liquor board released a notice to customers this week recommending they “shop far in advance.”

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“The strike deadline falls at one of the busiest times of the year when customers are planning activities with family and friends over the Canada Day long weekend. We expect an increase in customer traffic at LCBO stores this week,” management said.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, which represents 8,000 LCBO staff, has set up a website called LiqiLeaks.ca which claims to expose the current working conditions at the LCBO.

WATCH: Hard liquor disappearing from LCBO shelves. Cindy Pom reports.

Click to play video: 'Hard liquor disappearing from LCBO shelves' Hard liquor disappearing from LCBO shelves
Hard liquor disappearing from LCBO shelves – Jun 22, 2017

At the heart of the dispute is pay equity, which union leaders say is being stifled due to the proliferation of part-time work.

“This is not about money. It’s about working conditions. It’s about decent jobs from a place that should be able to provide decent jobs to the people of Ontario,” Thomas said.

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The union says 82 per cent of LBCO workers are part-timers with many working around four-hour shifts, seven days a week with an annual salary of $8,000 to $14,000 a year.

“Language in the collective agreement that would begin in a very serious and enforceable way to address shift schedule, to address the cancelling of shifts on short or no notice, to address working alone and the path to full-time employment,” Thomas said on the demands of workers.

READ MORE: Both sides brace for impact as LCBO work stoppage appears to be just days away

“You know what, none of these things really cost money. These are things they can do without breaking the bank.”

LCBO employees, who have been without a contract since it expired on March 31, have never hit the picket lines in their history.

“If there’s not a deal at midnight, but if talks are proceeding, we have extended in the past. If there’s a deal there my folks will find it,” said Thomas.

-With a file from AM640’s Don Mitchell

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