After a dispute with management over working conditions and wages, Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) employees employed at 26 SQDC stores staged a protest. For the past two months they have been refusing to wear the black work clothes demanded by the SQDC, according to CUPE which is the union representing the employees.
In response, the SQDC suspended more than 75 employees on the spot last Saturday and Sunday due to the fact they were wearing dresses and Bermuda shorts.
The union states, “Over those two days, the SQDC sent home every employee in more than fifteen outlets, leaving managers to step in and do the work. In the Quebec City region, the SQDC went ahead and shut down one of the outlets.”
The president and the vice-president of the union were also suspended.
“It`s really incredible to think the SQDC would go so far as to suspend every employee at some outlets, as if there was an emergency of some kind. Disrupting customer service just because they refused to wear the clothing provided by the employer is unjustifiable,” said CUPE union representative Daniel Morin.
Union Claims Unfair Wages
SQDC employees only earn $17 per hour when they are hired, and most do not have a full-time position. CUPE claims the employer refused to pay them wages and benefits similar to those offered in other comparable Crown corporations.
The company reported $26.4 million in profit in its third quarter and $23.3 million in the prior year. Quebec has the highest average sales per store, when comparing provinces across Canada, with Montreal, Quebec City, and Gatineau topping the list of cities with the highest average per month.
“We want to negotiate acceptable wages for our members, given the current job precarity, labour shortages and inflation that have hit low-wage earners hard. We will not stand for employer reprisals against the members and representatives of our union. These actions will not discourage us. We’ll challenge all of these measures, intimidation tactics and the disguised lockout before the courts,” declared Patrick Gloutney, president of CUPE Quebec.
Unions have been targeting other cannabis retail stores across Canada to fight for fair wages and benefits for employees.