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Unifor reaches tentative agreement with Metro

Local NewsUnifor reaches tentative agreement with Metro

Metro Inc. says it has reached a tentative agreement with Unifor covering striking workers at 27 Metro grocery stores across the Greater Toronto Area.

Details of the tentative deal were not immediately available.

In a statement Wednesday, Metro called the agreement fair and equitable, adding that the deal was unanimously recommended by the union’s bargaining committee and will put an end to the labour dispute if ratified.

The company said the agreement will be submitted to the employees for a ratification vote, which is expected to take place shortly.

“This tentative agreement acknowledges the economic struggle that many of our members face,” Gord Currie, Unifor Local 414 president, said in a statement.

“I am very proud of these members and their determination.”

The employees went on strike on July 29 after rejecting an earlier tentative agreement that the union described as their best in decades.

During the weeks-long dispute, Metro workers began secondary picket lines at two distribution centres, preventing stores from receiving fresh products, a move for which the grocer was granted a temporary injunction.

Metro and Unifor went back to the bargaining table on Tuesday, a month after the strike began and the same day the injunction was granted.

Since their last contract, the workers have endured a global pandemic, skyrocketing inflation and rising interest rates.

The Metro employees have been asking for higher wages as well as better working conditions and more full-time jobs. Some workers have said they struggle to afford groceries at their own stores.

The union had said workers want a bigger share of Metro’s profits, which have risen in the past couple of years, with some workers saying they want their pandemic “hero pay” — an extra $2 an hour — reinstated.

A recent study from the Competition Bureau found that the country’s three largest grocers, Metro included, collectively reported more than $100 billion in sales and $3.6 billion in profits last year.

This round of bargaining was the first for Unifor in a two-year stretch of negotiations for more than a dozen collective agreements with the major grocers. The union has said it hopes the Metro deal will help set a precedent for those upcoming talks.

“Our union was able to negotiate this new tentative agreement due to the unwavering commitment of our Metro grocery members who were united in their goal to improve their wages and working conditions,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “I commend the workers and the bargaining committee for their solidarity and also the customers who supported them during this difficult time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 30, 2023.

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