SQDC employees at 13 location stage walk out in protest over low wages

| Staff

Employees at 13 SQDC branches held another one-day walkout today, Saturday, June 18.

This is the third of five walkout days voted on by the union representing members of the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The union called a general strike on Friday, May 20 after first threatening one in February

The previous walkout was held June 8.

The 300 member union says the initial job action was in response to the suspension of the president and vice-president of the union, along with 75 employees.

Maxime Nadeau, president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, told Global News that the strike was because negotiations around wages had stalled.

“We have a ridiculous salary offer on the table, even insulting, so we obviously are asking for parity with the SAQ (Societe des alcools du Quebec),” he told Global News in a phone interview.

Starting wage for employees at SQDC is $17.12 an hour. Employees at the SAQ that oversees alcohol sales in the province start around $22 an hour.

Only one store in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood was forced to close, with managers at the other 12 branches handling duties.

The SQDC is Société québécoise du Cannabis, operating all retail cannabis stores in the province, with just under 100 locations currently in operation. When the stores first opened in late 2018, no employees were unionized, but a few weeks later CUPE was already representing SQDC employees, with a focus on raising wages above $14 an hour. By mid-2019 some employees were threatening to strike for higher wages

Employees in some stores had also agreed to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW). In late 2019, workers reached a collective agreement settlement with CUPE representatives around sick days.

SQDC has not provided any official comment as of press time.

Featured image via reddit