SAQ union spends Easter weekend protesting planned staffing structure for pot stores

The union that represents SAQ workers says that their workers should be used when the provincial liquor monopoly opens its pot stores later this year.

The SAQ currently plans on setting up an entirely new staffing structure for its 20 new Société québécois du cannabis (SQC) stores.  But the  interim president of the Syndicat des employés de magasins et de bureaux de la SAQ, Katia Lelièvre, told the Canadian Press's French-language service that the decision doesn't make any sense, and called it a thinly-veiled form of 'union-busting.'

The union says that it will end up costing the government much more to train an entirely new set of employees when it could at least partially fill its stores with workers already familiar with the SAQ's procedures and standards, as well as its social responsibilities as a crown corporation.  The union was not available for comment.

The provincial law that created the SQC earlier this year is extremely restrictive for people hoping to hold a job with both the SAQ and the SQC. Any workers currently employed by the SAQ who wish to also work for the SQC will have to apply and be hired separately from the pot stores' parent liquor company.  The provision will make being employed by both stores extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The union has suggested that may end up happening a lot, since 70% of the union's members work just 10-12 hours per week and may want to pick up extra hours by working at the new provincial pot stores.

The union hopes amendments to the staffing structure of the SQC can be included in ongoing negotiations for the union's current collective agreement, which expired last year.

As a pressure tactic, the union spent the weekend handing customers at SAQ stores pamphlets outlining their concerns with the monopoly's current approach.