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Thousands of workers at 27 Metro stores in GTA to strike after rejecting deal

Twenty-seven Metro grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area will be closed beginning Saturday as thousands of workers will be striking after they voted down a tentative deal.

Unifor, the union representing 3,700 Metro workers at 27 GTA locations, announced Friday evening the results of the ratification vote.

“This decision to go on strike comes after years of these workers being nickelled and dimed while facing increased precarity and eroded job quality. It comes after having pandemic pay stripped away. It comes at a time of record profits and soaring CEO compensation. It comes at a time when life has become simply unaffordable for so many of these workers who risked their health and safety during the pandemic,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a statement.

“We brought the tentative agreement to our members because it contained considerable gains, but our members are clear that it simply isn’t enough.

A tentative deal was reached on July 18, following weeks of bargaining to initially avert a strike. In June, members voted 100 per cent in favour of striking.

Union officials previously said fair pay for all workers, greater access to better benefits, and more secure work hours and full-time jobs were the three main priorities ahead of the negotiations.

“You know the system is broken when frontline workers can’t afford food, rent, or gas,” Unifor Local 414 President Gord Currie said in a statement on Friday. “Frontline grocery workers at Metro deserve the utmost respect, especially after working tirelessly through the pandemic.”

Workers are expected to form picket lines at each store starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. Unifor said the affected Metro stores will include those in Toronto, Brantford, Orangeville, Milton, Oakville, Brampton, North York, Islington, Willowdale, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Newmarket, and Scarborough.

In a statement, Metro confirmed that all 27 stores will be closed for the duration of the strike. It noted that pharmacies will remain open.

The grocer said it was “extremely disappointed” that its workers chose to strike.

“The company has been negotiating with the union for the past few weeks and reached a fair and equitable agreement that meets the needs of our employees and our customers while ensuring that Metro remains competitive. The settlement provided significant increases for employees in all four years of the agreement, as well as pension and benefits improvements for all employees, including part-time employees,” the statement read.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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