Electronic job

Quebec cannabis company workers walk off the job during one-day strike

A person enters a store of the SQDC (Quebec Cannabis Society) in Montreal, January 15, 2022.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

On Saturday, employees of the Quebec cannabis company staged a one-day strike at 13 branches.

The strike marks the third of five days of walkouts voted for by union members on June 5 and comes on the weekend of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal, when stores are particularly busy.

The only branch closed on Saturday afternoon was in the Sainte-Foy district of Quebec, while managers managed the services of a dozen others, the crown corporation said in an email.

Maxime Nadeau, president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions, said the strike was linked to stalled wage negotiations. The employee severance rate is $17.12 an hour, climbing to $21.23 an hour after eight years on the job, he said.

“We have a ridiculous, even insulting, salary offer on the table, so we are obviously asking for parity with the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec),” he said in a telephone interview.

Nadeau quoted Premier François Legault, who warned on June 12 that amid the continuing labor shortage, “companies that are unable to pay wages above $15 or $20 (time) are going to have problems”.

The union, which represents about 200 employees in 16 branches of the government-owned cannabis retailer, intentionally chose a weekend “when traffic is very high” to launch industrial action, Nadeau added in a statement.

Known as SQDC, the Quebec cannabis company said in an email that it “fully recognizes the right of employees to exercise pressure tactics in the ongoing negotiations.”

“The company remains available to pursue negotiations and our wish is to reach a negotiated agreement to the satisfaction of the parties concerned.

The SQDC, a subsidiary of the SAQ, is responsible for the distribution and sale of marijuana products in Quebec.