June 18, 2018 2:33 pm
Updated: June 18, 2018 8:25 pm

Quebec liquor store employees threaten to strike ahead of Fête nationale holiday

SAQ Employees have been working since March 2017 under an expired collective agreement.

The Canadian Press Images/Mario Beauregard
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Employees with Quebec’s liquor authority are threatening to strike ahead of the province’s popular Fete nationale holiday, also known as St-Jean-Baptiste day.

Workers are scheduled to vote Monday and over the course of the next several days on a proposal by union executives for a six-day strike that could begin June 23, the day before the holiday.

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Quebec’s alcohol commission has a state-enforced monopoly on hard liquor sales across the province and employs 5,500 people in roughly 400 stores.

“The objective is not to strike,” said union president Katia Lelievre, in an interview.

“The objective is to put pressure on the employer to move on their positions and to stop asking us for concessions.”

The eve of the St-Jean-Baptiste holiday is usually a lucrative period for Quebec’s liquor stores.

Union leaders said, however, that if the vote count isn’t completed before June 23, then the strike action could be postponed.

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Liquor authority spokesman Mathieu Gaudreault said he hopes both sides will return to talks on June 25.

“We have always hoped to arrive at an agreement that will satisfy both parties,” he said in an interview.

Employees have been working since March 2017 under an expired collective agreement.

Negotiations have proven difficult over the issue of weekend work hours and conditions of part-time employees.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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