October 6, 2006 Issue 9
Agency stores campaign aims to halt “privatization through the back door”
In July 2005, Ontario Finance Minister Greg
Sorbara made a clear statement about privatization
of the LCBO.
In May 2006, Infrastructure Minister David Caplan announced the opening of 20 new “agency stores” around the province. Agency stores sell beer, wine, and liquor out of gas stations, grocery stores, and yes, corner stores. They do not employ LCBO staff.
“Make no mistake about it, agency stores are nothing more than privatization through the back door,” said Jo Ann Fisher, acting chair of the OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Division (LBED). “Agency stores are a threat to our members’ jobs, the safety of our communities, and the money the LCBO earns for all Ontarians.
“That is why the Divisional Executive has approved a major campaign to impose strict limits on agency stores, starting this fall.”
Agency stores – a growing threat
The agency store program started off more than 20 years ago to serve remote communities in Northern Ontario. In the 1990s, all that changed. First, the program moved south. Then, under the Harris Tories, the number of agency stores more than doubled.
Since 1995, the number of agency stores and the value of agency store sales have skyrocketed. Outside of the big cities, agency stores are just about everywhere now. More and more of them are popping up just down the road from an existing LCBO store. And they’re not small operations, either – some agency stores have sales of $800,000 or more.
Agency stores are a direct threat to OPSEU members’ jobs in many smaller, rural and suburban stores. They threaten the whole network of public LCBO stores by siphoning off sales to private operators and reducing public revenue. They also help set the stage for wholesale privatization of the LCBO in the future.
Perhaps worst of all, agency stores put community
safety at risk. Unlike LCBO employees, private
operators have a direct financial interest in
selling more booze – even if that means selling to
minors, people who are intoxicated, or people who
drink and drive.
Growth of agency stores
1995 2000 2005 Increase
The OPSEU campaign
The goals of the OPSEU agency stores campaign
In the weeks ahead, OPSEU locals at the LCBO will be setting up local campaign committees and developing plans to reach out to our members and the public. To get involved, contact your steward or local president.
For complete information on agency stores, read the OPSEU submission to the Standing Committee on Government Agencies at http://www.opseu.org/lbed/index.htm.
Provincial health and safety committee back in business after three-year break
The joint provincial health and safety committee at the LCBO is back in business. On Sept. 22, the union met with the employer for the first time since 2003.
The meeting went well, by all accounts.
The provincial occupational health and safety committee is mandated by the collective agreement between OPSEU and the LCBO. It’s a forum for the union and the employer to improve health and safety in all LCBO workplaces by dealing with province-wide issues and by helping workplace health and safety representatives and committees.
“In many ways, the committee is starting from scratch,” said Aversa. “Our goal at this first meeting was, above all, to ask questions – to find out what the employer had in place to protect workers. Once we know where we’re at, we can figure out where we need to go.”
The two sides discussed violence in the workplace, ergonomic issues (i.e., the effects of lifting heavy cases all day long), workplace asbestos, terms of reference for the committee, and health and safety training.
The LCBO has agreed to provide health and safety certification for all provincial health and safety committee members. The employer also plans to distribute a health and safety handbook to reps in smaller workplaces.
The committee meets next in November. Watch the Echo for updates or click on the “Health and Safety” button at www.opseu.org/lbed/index.htm.
A frequently-asked question about health and safety
(#1 in a series)
Q: The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) says that a workplace with 20 or more workers who are “regularly employed” is entitled to a Joint Health and Safety Committee, while a workplace with 6 to 19 workers who are “regularly employed” is entitled to a Health and Safety Representative. What does “regularly employed” mean?
A:“Regularly employed” refers to the number of workers who are employed for a period of more than three months. This includes permanent full-time staff, permanent part-time staff, casual and contract staff, and seasonal workers. It also includes managers and supervisors.
There may be situations where there is a high turnover of staff and a number of different workers fill a particular position, with each person working for less than three months. If the term of the position exceeds three months, that position is included for the purpose of determining whether a health and safety representative or joint health and safety committee is required. It doesn’t matter that no single worker occupied the position for more than three months.
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The Echo is authorized for distribution by Jo Ann Fisher, Acting Chair, Liquor Board Employees Division, and Leah Casselman, President.
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