NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – A union representing Safeway employees in British Columbia says 10 stores in the province will be permanently closed, affecting about 1,000 employees, as labour negotiations are set to begin.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 says Sobeys Inc. informed members of the decision this morning on the eve of bargaining between its union and Sobeys for all of its Safeway stores in B.C.
Union Local 1518 also says Sobeys indicated that if it gets favourable terms and conditions for its FreshCo discount banner, it may open FreshCo stores at five of the closed Safeway locations.
Ivan Limpright, president of Union Local 1518, says the timing of the announcement to B.C. Safeway employees is suspicious.
He says that last week on the first day of bargaining with a United Food and Commercial Workers union in Manitoba, Sobeys demanded poverty concessions and then walked away from the table.
Limpright says now that negotiations are set to begin in B.C., the announcement of 10 Safeway store closures is a “classic scare tactic.”
Sobeys did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the closures.
The Safeway locations slated for closure in B.C. include Lougheed Mall, City Square, Sunwood Square, Point Grey, Royal Oak, Blundel, Broadmoor, Newton Town Centre, Strawberry Hills and Mission.
Both Safeway and Sobeys are owned by Empire Company Ltd.
If the company has any plans for Calgary, they haven’t looped in UFCW Local 401 president Douglas O’Halloran, who only recently found out about the Vancouver stores.
O’Halloran added his heart goes out to the impacted Vancouver employees, some of whom have likely worked there for decades.