Liquor Mart union escalates to provincewide strike

The union representing Manitoba’s Liquor Mart employees says it’s stepping up job action and launching a provincewide strike starting Tuesday morning. 

The move is the latest in an ongoing labour dispute between Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union, which represents about 1,400 Liquor Mart workers. 

It also comes after the Crown corporation announced Sunday that it was closing an additional 10 Liquor Marts across the province. 

In a news release, the union said it has no other option than to move to a provincewide strike in response to “escalating lockouts and intimidation tactics.” 

MGEU will be holding a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday where more details on the strike are expected.

The workers, who have been without a contract since the previous one expired in March 2022, began a selective strike began on July 19, which has seen MGEU employees refuse to work overtime and liquor store workers not receiving shipments.

Operations at the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries distribution centre have also been impacted. 

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, 34 stores of the corporation’s 63 across Manitoba were due to be shut from its announced closures. 

“MBLL must reduce the number of Liquor Marts open for business to ensure we can effectively manage allocating limited inventory to the remaining open locations,” the Crown corporation said in a statement on Monday. 

According to the union’s last collective agreement, which expired in March 2022, full-time MBLL clerks make about $20 to $24 per hour, while part-time clerks receive $15 to $17 an hour.

In a Monday statement, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union president Kyle Ross said Liquor & Lotteries is “a very profitable corporation” that “can afford fair and reasonable wage increases for its workers.”

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has not yet responded to the MGEU’s notice to fully strike.

The corporation is reminding customers to check its website for open locations and hours of operation.