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Union not impressed by plan to gift chocolates to BC Liquor Store workers

Click to play video: 'The BC Liquor Distribution Branch is under fire for requesting bids to provide chocolates for its staff' The BC Liquor Distribution Branch is under fire for requesting bids to provide chocolates for its staff
The BC Liquor Distribution Branch is under fire for requesting bids to provide chocolates for its staff – Jun 4, 2020

A plan to gift boxes of chocolates to workers at B.C.’s government liquor stores is not going over well with their union.

But the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) says the situation is a misunderstanding.

The LDB has posted a bid request for a supplier to produce 4,400 boxes of the treats.

Each box would contain four pieces of chocolate, including two caramels and a truffle or cream-filled chocolate and a “thank you” card.

The bid request was posted Tuesday, about two weeks after the province announced a $4-per-hour pandemic pay premium for front-line health care, social services and corrections workers.

READ MORE: B.C. front-line health workers to receive pandemic pay top-up

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The bonus will be paid out as a retroactive lump sum covering a 16-week period, averaging at about $2,200.

“Every other essential front-line worker in the essential public service is getting a 16-week lump sum thank you in terms of wages. We know that there are private liquor stores that are offering their employees wage top-ups,” said B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) president Stephanie Smith.

“These members are getting a box of chocolates. Wouldn’t you be a bit insulted by that?”

Click to play video: 'B.C. officials to crackdown on panic buying at local liquor and grocery stores' B.C. officials to crackdown on panic buying at local liquor and grocery stores
B.C. officials to crackdown on panic buying at local liquor and grocery stores – Mar 18, 2020

Smith says liquor store workers were among the first to be declared essential, and have since dealt with Christmas-level sales volumes at BC Liquor Stores.

She said that volume has padded government coffers while putting her members at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

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READ MORE: Liquor stores across B.C. see record sales during coronavirus pandemic

“To be honest, they haven’t always been treated very well,” she said.

“There was panic buying, there was no safety measures put in place.”

Liquor stores have since implemented a variety of safety protocols, including limiting the number of customers in the store and plexiglass shields for cashiers.

The LDB responded to Global News’ request for comment late Thursday, saying the chocolates are a part of Civic Worker Appreciation Week.

It says the Crown corporation does something small every year to say thanks to its employees.

— With files from Ted Chernecki

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