Today might be a good day to hit the liquor store.
Unionized LCBO staff across the province say they are poised to walk out at midnight tonight if talks toward a collective agreement fail.
A trend toward more part-time and casual jobs, and a management proposal to have power to issue 90-day lay-off notices in slow periods to any employee remain the two main bones of contention, union leaders said yesterday.
“This is about workers being poorly treated — part-time and casual workers,” union vice-president and treasurer Patty Rout told reporters on the sidewalk opposite the Liquor Control Board of Ontario head office near Yonge Street.
“Twenty years ago all the jobs were full-time,” she said. “Now 60 per cent are part-time or casual, people making $10 to $17 an hour, making less than $20,000 a year.
Early in negotiations, LCBO managers had asked for the freedom to lay off an employee for 90 days and call the person back again, said Ontario Public Service Employees Union representative Craig Hadley.
“So even full-time jobs are not secure,” he said.
Liquor sales peak in November and December and drop off substantially in the first three months of the year, making a mix of full-time and part-time jobs necessary, said LCBO spokesperson Chris Layton.
“We are not eliminating full-time positions,” he said.
About 500 full-time positions were filled last year, mostly through promotion of part-time and casual staff, he said. Another 500 full-time jobs are expected to be filled in the next four years as existing staff members retire.
A news blackout on the talks prevented parties from saying how close they are to an agreement.
The union membership delivered a 93 per cent strike vote last month.