Wednesday, January 05, 2005

So, So, So What?

Welcome to January 5th, Day 48 of the SAQ strike. That's an awfully long time to go without quality wine and spirits. Well, if would be if this household had not arranged for four separate rounds of wine imports from Ontario. But I digress...

The workers of the Société des Alcools du Québec have lost whatever clout they did have over management, now that the Christmas season is over. There has not been an upsurge of the Québécois chanting "So, So, So... Solidarité". And it would seem that they overestimated what clout they did have, as the SAQ profits were apparently not hit nearly as badly as they feared. At this point, the workers would be lucky to get the same deal offered two weeks before Christmas, and extremely lucky to be offered another shot at binding arbitration.

For those not in the know - which is most of the population of this province, given the union's pathetic public information campaign - the key issue in this strike appears to have been hours and job seniority for part-time workers. Specifically, it seems as if SAQ workers can currently work in multiple outlets to accumulate their hours (and seniority, and presumably benefits). Management wants to move to a single-outlet system. A less contentious issue is that the union wants its full-time workers to be guaranteed at least one weekend day off. I can get behind this latter point, and I suspect that management could as well.

On the issue of multiple-outlet work though, I fail to see how the union thought they could rally public support behind this one. They are not complaining about wages - which is not surprising, as they are far better paid than their LCBO counterparts in Ontario, and earn much more than other retail workers in Quebec. So I don't understand how the union has managed to convince itself that these essentially unskilled-workers have any clout, let alone enough clout to tell the SAQ that they should not be allowed to follow standard retail practices.

The union is not going to win this one, and management knows it. I just hope that the union blinks before we get to Valentine's Day.

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