Workers at Lifestyle Markets are demanding hazard pay and paid sick leave in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However staff recently unionized and an agreement is still being negotiated. (Google Maps)

Victoria grocery store staff seek hazard pay during COVID-19 crisis

Newly unionized Lifestyle Markets staff seek $3 an hour pay increase

A group of Victoria grocery store workers is demanding hazard pay and paid sick leave in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Represented by non-profit labour organization Retail Action Network, workers at Lifestyle Markets on Douglas Street say they continue to put their health at risk every day they come in to work, and feel they should be entitled to a $3 per hour pay increase until the crisis ends.

READ ALSO: B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

“We as grocery workers risk our own health, and the health of our families to continue serving our country during a global pandemic, and we are essential to the health of our community,” reads a letter signed by 41 staff members. “Lifestyle Markets staff have shown up to serve, even in the midst of a crisis.”

Workers are also seeking six paid sick days.

The group points to other grocery store chains, such as Loblaw, Sobeys, Save-On-Foods and Walmart Canada, where hazard pay has been implemented for workers.

Staff voted to unionize on Feb. 11, but say they only recently began bargaining to form a first contract.

A lawyer representing the grocery store said negotiations with the new union representative were ongoing, and therefore the company is restricted in what it can do in terms of changing pay rates.

READ ALSO: Grocery stores hiring more staff, offer wage boost as B.C. adapts to COVID-19 buying habits



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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