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Service union files labour complaint against Greater Victoria liquor store

Cascadia Liquor employees have been on strike since May 4
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The Service Employees International Union filed a labour complaint against Cascadia Liquor, alleging that they have been illegally using head-office employees to perform the duties of striking workers. (Bailey Seymour/The News)

The Service Employees International Union is claiming Cascadia Liquor has been illegally using replacement workers to perform duties that would normally be done by its employees, who are currently on strike.

In early May, dozens of Cascadia employees at three Greater Victoria locations have been on strike and asking for a fair wage. On May 21, the union filed a complaint through the B.C. Labour Relations Board against the employer, claiming they directed newly hired managers and head office employees to perform work that would have been performed by striking workers.

According to the complaint, which was filed by Vancouver-based law firm Koskie Glavin Gordan, multiple managers, head-office executives, including general managers, area general managers, and their “wine and spirits specialist,” have been working various shifts across their Greater Victoria stores and performing duties such as aiding customers, working as cashiers, and even doing deliveries.

“Deliveries from both Quadra and Langford were always performed by the Quadra delivery driver,” noted the complaint. “Since the strike began, [the revenue generation manager and head buyer from the head office] has been performing deliveries from the Quadra location in his personal vehicle. Prior to the strike, [he] visited Quadra for approximately one to two hours every two months to attend to matters relating to product and supplier relations.”

The complaint says the employers violated the B.C. Labour Relations Code, which prohibits employers from using employees hired after the strike started, employees from a third party, or employees from a different location to perform the duties of striking employees.

“While the B.C. Labour Code imposes restrictions on the performance of work by managers and other head office employees during a strike, the Code does not completely prohibit such ‘replacement workers’ from performing work at locations under a strike,” said Keith Barbon, CEO of Cascadia.

He says that because managers and head-office employees have always partnered with employees to provide customer service, so it’s not unlawful for them to perform work they routinely did before the strike.

“We have received the Union’s complaint to the Labour Board and want to point out that we take such matters seriously and will cooperate in the dispute resolution process that will follow,” he said. “It is important to note that we are eager to resume bargaining and remain hopeful that we will be back at the bargaining table soon. As you remember, we are at an impasse with the SEIU Local 2 at three of our 12 locations.”

Strikers will once again hit the picket line at the Quadra Village location starting at noon on Saturday, May 25.

Read More: Dozens of Victoria liquor store employees strike, ask for fair wage