Rona store closures: Unions say "We told you so", concerned about others shuttering
The closure of nine Rona stores in Quebec is raising concern for unions representing workers at other stores owed by the U.S. hardware giant Lowe's which bought Rona in 2016.
The company is closing a total of 51 stores in Canada and the U.S.
"The fears we had at the start when the sale was announced are materializing," said Alexandre Giguère, vice president of the business arm of the CSN (Confederation of National Trade Unions) which represents 2000 workers at Rona and Reno-Depot stores in the province.
Giguere said they're worried this may be the beginning of other closures down the line.
Some of the stores closing used to be mom and pop neighbourhood shops before they were bought by Rona and then swallowed up by Lowe's.
Giguere dismisses the optimistic outlook by the business community at the time of the sale, saying that when it comes shareholders, they're looking for maximum profit not the interests of workers.
Lowe’s Canada said it will also close its regional support centres in Mississauga, Ontario and Saint John, New Brunswick and consolidate those activities in Boucherville, where its head office is located.
Lowe's Canada said in a statement it promises to help as many workers as possible to transfer to other locations. Two hundred people are losiing their jobs.
"It is shocking for the workers," said Tony Filato, president of the UFCW representing 3200 Rona and Reno Depot workers in Quebec.
The nine stores closing were not unionized.
"Now what do these workers have to look forward to in the future? They have to rely on a company that didn't even tell them it was closing," said Filato in an interview with CJAD 800.
Filato said that at the time of the sale, they were concerned another Quebec company was being swallowed up by the U.S. where all the decisions would be made.
"Our employees are actually calling to see, 'Do you know what's going to be happening to us in the future?' " said FIlato.
"And we don't. That's the problem."