Raging Grannies hit Loblaws again


Loblaws' cruel policy is damaging its public image

Ottawa's Raging Grannies continue to hammer Loblaws

for abuse of employees with pay cutbacks and unfair hours

'Cell phone cameras went off like paparazzi at a red-carpet event'

By Shannon Lee Manion
Contributing Editor
True North Perspective
Photo by Shannon Lee Mannion.  

Fresh from our successful demonstration last week at the Loblaws at Carlingwood, the Ottawa Raging Grannies hit the Loblaws store on Rideau Street in Ottawa mid-day on Friday, December 16.

They pulled up in a bright red van, unloaded an activist's cornucopia of signs, hats, shawls and handouts and positioned themselves in the foyer.

Immediately, a crowd formed on the stairway leading into the store, clapping in time to the Jingle Bells-tuned song the chorus of which goes like this:

Loblaws sucks, the union sucks,

We should all protest.

We won't see smiling faces

Working at their best.

Oh, longer hours, lower pay,

What are unions for

If unions work for management

Let's show them the door.

Cell phone cameras went off like paparazzi at a red-carpet event.

Before hoisting our signs and starting to sing, two Grans in muftis did reconnaissance inside passing to employees copies of the article which appeared in the Glebe Report on Friday, December 9, 2011. You can read that article here: www.ottawagrans.net

One employee who is a manager of one of the departments asked us about our purpose in being at the store. She was pleased that we were there in solidarity with Loblaws' employees. She said that since conversion to Loblaw Great Food, her hours had changed and she was scheduled to work to 11:00 pm some evenings. She was concerned since as a mother of several children, she hardly saw her kids any more saying, “I feel as if I live at the store.” She said that the scheduling was not the way they'd been lead to believe it would be.

No matter which of the converted Loblaws stores we go to, and we've been to four of the eight listed on the United Commercial and Food Workers site, employees tell the same story. They are compelled to work at times when they don't want to. This, of course, includes Sunday, a day when employees with seniority at least had the choice to work on that day or not. But not any more. All employees are compelled to work their share of Sundays and another thing that has changed, there is no paid overtime, just time in lieu of.

One cashier at one of the first Loblaws stores we picketed confirmed this in an email:

“Scheduling is no longer done by seniority and the company just doesn't care. I have so many feelings about it all. I've noticed lately customers are asking questions. They are mostly commenting about the amount of new employees and also expressing their frustration with the new staff.” She mentioned that projected sales last week were down and that the manager was hoping the weeks leading up to Christmas might be better.

However, with produce not in place and shelves empty and with missing items from the dairy case, for instance, no eggs on one Sunday last month, and with endless lineups it may be little wonder that sales are down. People are not putting up with it. Where there is a Loblaws, there is bound to be an Independent Grocer or Metro or Farm Boy a block away where supply and service is better.

So, what is happening to Loblaws? How did a respected food retailer that could count on family food buying for decades, (I know because my family is one), come to this state where compromised employees are desperately unhappy in their workplace and even managers are feeling the strain? Scuttlebutt has it that a manger at a west end store up and quit last Saturday. Allegedly, he got so frustrated with one of his superiors, he said, 'That's it!” and walked out. He now works for a competitor.

In its bid to maximize profits it appears that not only is Loblaws letting it's employees down, it's destroying its reputation and letting itself down.

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