Jun 13, 2020

By Jeremy Logan

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Unions representing essential workers at some of Canada’s major retailers are pushing back against the decision to eliminate wage premiums.

The extra pay was put in place to compensate employees for working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias says the pandemic is not over.

He says the danger has not passed and these workers are no less at risk and are no less essential today than they were yesterday.

The union, which represents some Metro and Loblaws employees, wants to make fair pay permanent.

It created an online petition for people to ask leadership at some of Canada’s largest grocery stores and other retailers to institute the pay increases permanently.

The retailers, however, are rebuffing that call.

Essential employees at Loblaw Companies Ltd., Metro Inc. and Sobeys Inc. will see their two-dollar an hour COVID-19 bonus pay eliminated Saturday, about two weeks after Walmart Canada employees experienced the cutback.

Loblaw announced in an email sent to workers yesterday that it has “decided the time is right to transition out of our temporary pay premium.”

Sarah Davis, Loblaw president, noted their stores and distribution centres “have settled into a good rhythm” and provinces are re-opening their economies.

The company as well as Metro, started paying an extra 15 per cent when the pandemic first started having a serious impact in Canada.

Both chains will stop the bonus pay Saturday.

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