Lack of PPE, low danger pay among grievances aired during Dollarama staff protest

Dollarama employees called for better working conditions and pay during an International Workers Day protest on Friday, saying they've been going without proper protective equipment and high enough danger pay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What Canadians are saying today is give your workers dignity and respect,” said protest organizer Luca Palladino. “A living wage instead of doing the minimum.”

A petition with more than 25,000 signatures calls for a two-dollar-per-hour pay increase and a proper barrier between employees and customers. At some Dollarama locations, the only barriers consists of improvised plastic sheets between cashiers and the public.

“We've had workers and clients come to us and say 'Listen, my Dollarama doesn't have plexiglass shields, it just has this thin plastic that is kind of like a dollar store solution to the problem,'” said Palladino. “That's not what we need. We need real solutions.”

Fellow organizer Mostafa Henaway said the company's issues begin at the distribution centre.

“There's no extra sanitation, they all have to work with electric pallet movers that are touched by hundreds of people without any extra sanitation or washing stations,” he said. “People weren't given gloves or masks and there was no possibility of being two metres apart.”

Dollarama management refused to comment but said in an email that the health and safety of its customers and employees is a top priority. The company's website said safety shields continue to be installed at all checkout areas and masks and gloves are made available to all employees who want them.

The company also said a 10 per cent premium per hour is applied on top of any overtime hours worked. 

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