Toronto HBC warehouse workers walk off the job

More than 300 workers at The Bay’s e-commerce warehouse in Scarborough are on strike.

The HBC Logistics employees, who process online orders from across Canada, have been without a contract for more than a year.

The workers walked off the job on Wednesday, June 22 after the last round of negotiations broke down. Due to the pandemic, contract negotiations were delayed.

According to the workers’ union, Unifor, one of the main points of contention is that the employer has “refused to offer any retroactive increase for the period that they continued to work without a contract during COVID-19.”

The union said the 330-plus affected employees, most of whom are newcomers, took on an increased workload during the pandemic as in-person shopping significantly declined.

“These workers stepped up to help The Bay cope with a surge in online shopping during COVID-19, even postponing bargaining when their collective agreement expired in May 2021,” Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi said in a release on Wednesday.

“Now it appears Canada’s flagship retailer is cynically exploiting the goodwill of its employees to cheat workers out of the pay increase they should and would have received.”

Unifor said HBC Logistics has only offered pay increases on a “go-forward basis” and is “refusing to acknowledge the retroactive period worked since May 2021.”

They also said the HBC warehouse was impacted by “multiple cases” of COVID-19 and two of its workers died with the virus.

In a statement provided to CP24, The Bay said it is “committed to the collective bargaining process and hopes to continue its discussions in good faith.”

“We have made fair, reasonable and competitive offers which included meaningful wage increases for associates. While we are disappointed the Union has taken this action, we are hopeful that a resolution can be reached quickly,” the company said, adding customers should expect “absolutely no disruption” to their orders.

The employer went onto say that it “appreciates the hard work of its associates, particularly those who worked through the height of the pandemic when a wage premium was provided.”

HBC said it has offered “meaningful” increases that are much more than what staff at its Scarborough Logistics Center have received in the past.

“The union’s characterization of the bargaining process and the time leading up to it is simply inaccurate,” the company said.

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