Ontario liquor store workers strike, shutting down 680 stores

Over 9,000 unionized LCBO workers strike, closing 680 stores as labour talks fail and job security issues arise

Workers at Ontario liquor stores have gone on strike for the first time in the 97-year history of the government-owned retailer.  

The strike has prompted the closures of more than 680 stores in Canada’s most populous province, as reported by The Financial Post. 

More than 9,000 unionized employees started the strike early Friday after labour talks between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario fell apart.  

The union is seeking a new contract after its last agreement expired in March, with job security and hours among key issues as Ontario’s government moves to expand alcohol sales to private retailers.   

The strike is a first for a Canadian retailer that is one of the world’s largest buyers of wine, beer, and spirits. The dispute comes as Ontario Premier Doug Ford pushes ahead with plans to expand sales to as many as 8,500 private retail outlets, including convenience stores, a move opposed by the union.   

The LCBO has said it’s shutting all retail stores for 14 days to update its operations. If the union remains on strike, the retailer will reopen 32 outlets for in-store shopping three days a week with limited hours. It continues to operate its online store, and wholesale orders to restaurants and bars are unaffected.   

“We have implemented contingency plans to help minimize disruption as much as possible and ensure that our products remain available to our valued retail and wholesale customers,” the LCBO said Friday in a statement.  

“We remain hopeful that we can quickly reach an agreement that is fair to our employees.”   

Ontarians will still be able to buy beer and wine at about 2,300 private retail locations across the province, including select grocery stores, breweries, wineries, and specialty outlets, including the Beer Store.