Crews have removed the Safeway logo from the former Mission store. The store shut down on July 5. Kevin Mills Photo

Safeway union urges rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Safeway’s B.C. unionized workers are being asked to reject recommendations made by mediator Vince Ready meant to break a negotiations impasse and lead to a new collective agreement.

The recommendations would instead mean wage and other concessions affecting approximately 4,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers 1518 who work for Safeway, its president said today.

“If some of our members can’t even afford to shop at Safeway, I don’t know how Sobeys thinks they’d be able to live on less. Our members deserve a living wage, not poverty concessions,” said Ivan Limpright.

The two sides had been negotiating since mid-March following a January announcement by Safeway owner Sobeys that it would close 10 stores while suggesting five could be saved from closure if a new collective agreement was reached.

Ready was brought in in hopes of finding common ground.

Limpwright said Ready’s recommendations would lead to a freeze on re-opening the current agreement between his union and Safeway and then to bargain for a new collective agreement with FreshCo, Sobeys discount banner.

Such a move would result in lower wages and benefits, he added.

The province-wide vote is scheduled for next week.

“We know our members will come out in force and tell Sobeys where to stick those recommendations,” said Limpright.

Sobeys, based in Nova Scotia, purchased Safeway’s BC operations in hopes of adding to its Canadian grocery store presence in the west.

But problems in integrating supply chains and customer complaints about empty shelves have cost Sobeys greatly.

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