TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government is not going to wade into the labour dispute between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and its unionized employees, despite a looming strike deadline.
More than 7,000 LCBO workers represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union are threatening to walk off the job on May 17 if they can’t reach a fair contract with the retail giant.
The union says it has filed an application with the Ministry of Labour for the strike deadline, which would fall on the Friday before the long weekend next month.
The employees’ four-year contract with the LCBO ended March 31 and the union says “very little progress” has been made at the bargaining table.
Earlier this month, the employees voted 95 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.
Wynne says negotiations are ongoing and both sides should be left to work things out between them, adding May 17 is still a ways off.
“I’m sure that both sides will be able to come together and work this out,” she said Wednesday.
“They are in discussion and it’s more helpful for us to let that be a confidential conversation.”
The union says key issues include boosting part-time wages and upgrades to health and safety standards but the province has said it has no money to spend on wage increases.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Wednesday that the Liberals will likely just give in to union leaders, just like they did during disputes with the province’s teachers’ unions at the beginning of the year.
“We’re going to see a lot more of these workplace actions from the government unions because it seems with the Liberals, they always get their way,” he said.
Hudak has said the province should allow beer, wine and spirits to be sold in corner stores and has also floated the idea of selling part or all of the LCBO.
Wynne said Wednesday she thinks the LCBO works just fine the way it is.