Thursday, February 10, 2005

Labouring in Quebec

At long last, the strike at the SAQ is over. Workers will return to stores on Friday at noon, and quality wine and spirits shall flow once more. Prices will continue to be higher than those offered across the border at the LCBO, so I have not cancelled an order for wine that I placed with an Ottawa friend coming to town this weekend. For all the hoopla, it doesn't seem to have been worth much. There will be more guaranteed minimum hours for part-timers, wages will rise somewhat, and more permanent positions will be created. But the whole "working at multiple outlets" question, apparently so crucial to the union, seems to have been decided in favour of management. Ah well, the part time workers can chew on their $14/hour wages while they contemplate that. As a point of comparison for you, teaching assistants at the Universite de Quebec a Montreal were earning $12.50/hour a few years back. But wine is available again, and this makes me a happy camper.

Less encouraging is the fact that Wal-Mart has decided to close down the store in Jonquiere that unionized. While I may rail against unions from time to time, there are certainly some cases that demonstrate why they are needed so badly. Wal-Mart and McDonalds are at the top of the list, with their willingness to close outlets rather than negotiate with the unions. One would think that someone, perhaps a government, would see this as the flagrant abuse of workers' rights that it is, and shut those companies down completely in the jurisdictions that they do this in. But no, they are giant megacorporations that governments are afraid of. It's truly disheartening.

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