Metro workers ratify collective agreement

Wages, working conditions 'among highest in industry,' says exec, and new contract ‘maintains those standards'

Metro workers ratify collective agreement

Workers at 27 Metro locations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will get a boost in their wages and benefits after they ratified a new collective agreement.

"We are pleased to have reached a fair and reasonable outcome," says Joe Fusco, senior vice president, Metro. "Throughout this process, Metro has remained committed to bargaining in good faith and made every reasonable effort to present a serious offer to meet the needs of our employees and our business.

“Our store employees benefit from wages and working conditions among the highest in the industry, and the new contract maintains those standards. For its part, the company improved its operational flexibility to function effectively in the country's most competitive marketplace."

Late in July, thousands of unionized Metro grocery workers walked off the job after they voted to reject a tentative collective agreement. 

TVO workers and others represented by unions have also held strikes earlier this year.

‘Historic’ agreement provides wage increases, better benefits

Under the new five-year collective agreement, full-time and senior part-time Metro workers will receive an unprecedented pay increase of $2.00 per hour within months. All other workers, full and part-time, will receive an immediate, upfront wage hike of $1.50 per hour.

This translates into more than $33,000 in new earnings for a full-time clerk over the lifetime of the agreement, for example, according to Unifor, which represents the over 3,7000 workers covered by the agreement. These workers include 3,700 store clerks in all departments, including cashiers, department managers and pharmacy and Starbucks staff.

The new deal contains an overall wage improvement of $4.50 per hour for full-time and senior part-time workers and $3.20 for non-senior part-time workers, over the duration of the contract. New hourly rates will reach $25.05/hour for full-time clerks and significantly higher wages for part-time clerks.

The new agreement also includes a new part-time sick leave program, improved benefits and pensions, a new standardized work week for full-time workers, more stable scheduling including additional guaranteed weekends off for some classifications, and job protection from the implementation of self-check-outs, according to Unifor.

"What a time to fight for workers. This is a historic collective agreement that sets a new bar for grocery store workers,” says Lana Payne, Unifor national president.

In July, an arbitrator in Ontario awarded more than 65,000 hospital-sector registered nurses (RNs) and health-care professionals with average wage increases of 11 per cent over two years, according to the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA).

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