Strike at Sobeys warehouse in Quebec ends after workers ratify new deal

A Sobeys grocery store is seen in Halifax on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Workers at a Sobeys distribution centre in Quebec have ratified a new contract, ending a three-month strike over wages and benefits.

Empire Co. Ltd., the grocer’s parent company, says workers voted in favour of a new three-year collective bargaining agreement Tuesday.

The company says it looks forward to welcoming back employees and resuming operations at its Terrebonne distribution centre, which supplies its Quebec network of stores.

About 190 workers went on strike Feb. 8.

Kim Bergeron, a lawyer representing UFCW Canada’s Local 501, says 59 per cent of workers voted in favour of the new deal.

Under the collective agreement, she says employees will receive a salary increase of up to 28 per cent upon ratifying the new contract.

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Bergeron says workers will receive an additional pay raise of up to 12 per cent over the three-year contract, or to the maximum of the pay scale.

The new collective agreement also includes five additional days off: Three sick days, one float day and one extra holiday day, she says.

Sobeys also agreed to increase the starting salary at the distribution centre to $22, Bergeron says.

She says they return to work on Sunday.

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Dealing with rising food prices

Empire says the impact of the strike on earnings per share is estimated to be five cents per share — largely due to higher transportation costs — and will affect earnings in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

Workers at the Terrbonne warehouse had previously rejected a deal proposed by the company in April.

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The resolution of the labour dispute “removes a temporary layer of complexity and costs from industry-wide supply chain disruptions,” Irene Nattel, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities Inc., said in a client note.

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