Saskatchewan’s labour movement forms Solidarity Committee to help striking Saskatoon Co-op workers

Leaders from unions across the province have come together to form a Solidarity Committee aimed at helping striking Saskatoon Co-op workers get a fair deal from their employer.

“Workers at Saskatoon Co-op, who are members of UFCW Local 1400, have been on strike since November of 2018. That is a very long time for people to be out of work; it’s time the Saskatoon Co-op get serious about signing a fair deal,” said Lori Johb, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) president, “our Solidarity Committee will seek to mobilize the nearly 100,000 members of the SFL across the province to put pressure on Saskatoon Co-op and Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL),” she added.

Actions organized by the Solidarity Committee and campaign could include:

·       Informational leafleting in Saskatoon and across the province;

·       Public engagement and education to encourage people to avoid shopping at Saskatoon Co-op;

·       Days of Action to show support for striking workers;

·       Targeted requests to avoid doing business with FCL and FCL holdings.

“UFCW Local 1400 members at Saskatoon Co-op have been forced out on strike by a greedy employer who wants to roll back the principles of the co-op movement – principles like fairness and pay equity. Saskatoon Co-op, backed by FCL, is pushing a mean-spirited contract that would prevent new workers from earning the same wages as other workers for doing the exact same work and slash the wages of many workers by $8,000 per year,” said Johb, “it’s not fair and it’s not the co-op philosophy, so we intend to take that message to consumers not just in Saskatoon, but across Saskatchewan,” she added.

Saskatoon Co-op CEO Grant Wicks has been unwilling to bend on his demands for major wage cuts. Meanwhile, UFCW Local 1400 members have told the employer they’re willing to meet to reach a fair deal that reflects the needs of workers and the business.

Federated Co-operatives Limited CEO Scott Banda could intervene in the matter, but has chosen to stand by while workers are left out in the cold. The umbrella organization for Co-operatives in Canada, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC), has also chosen to stay silent.