Friday, 4 May 2012

Target targeted by rallying unionized Zellers workers

Target targeted by rallying unionized Zellers workers
May 04, 2012 Francine Kopun
U.S. discount retailer Target seems to be tearing a page from the Walmart handbook when it comes to dealing with employees and unions, says the head of a Canadian union representing 250,000 food and commercial workers.
“Target is as anti-union as Walmart, we’ve experienced that in the U.S.,” said Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union Canada.

Target bought the leases to 189 Zellers locations from HBC for $1.8 billion and plans to convert between 125 and 135 to Target locations, beginning with 24 stores in Ontario in March or April of 2013.
Zellers employees at stores being converted to Targets are being let go and told they can reapply for jobs at Target if they wish.
There are 15 unionized Zellers stores across Canada where long-serving employees are paid more than minimum wage and have a defined benefits pension plan.
Lisa Gibson, a spokesperson for Target, declined to say whether the retailer will be paying new hires anything more than the minimum wage. She referred questions about the future of Zellers employees to HBC.
Gibson said Target purchased the leases — not the stores — from HBC and is not obliged to hire the people who work at the Zellers stores that will be converted.
“It’s kind of like when you buy a house. You get the house, you get the land, you don’t get the people in it, so we didn’t get the fixtures or any of the merchandise or the technology, and it’s the same for the employees as well,” said Gibson.
Employees initially came to the union with their concerns, but have since become reluctant to speak out.
“You buy the company, there was people in the company — not animals — human beings in there. So, you should have taken the people that’s there,” Angela Rankine, a Zeller’s employee with 13 years of experience, told union leaders in a video posted to the protest website
Reached on Friday, Rankine said she can no longer speak to the issue. She said HBC had her sign an agreement preventing her from speaking to the press about the situation.
Target sold 39 leases to Walmart and has also entered into an agreement with Sobeys regarding food distribution, said Gibson.
Walmart works hard to prevent employees from unionizing and the mindset is permeating the workplace in Canada, Hanley said.
The union has called on members to rally in Windsor, home to one of the Zellers stores that will be transformed into a Target for 2013. The “Ask Target for Fairness” rally is scheduled for 11 a.m., at Devonshire Mall.
Hanley, who began working in retail in 1976, remembers when grocery store jobs were good jobs, where employees made enough to buy a car, a house and send their children to university.
“There was a recognition that if you treat your employees well, it’s good for business. There seems to have been a paradigm shift. The fairness that benefitted me, my family, my community, is slipping away,” he said.
Retail is one of the fastest growing sectors in the labour market, said Hanley.
“As the public learns more they’re becoming increasingly frustrated. People assume there are laws to protect workers in these situations. I think people are realizing there’s not,” he added.
With more than 250,000 members represented by 47 UFCW Canada Local Unions, UFCW is Canada’s largest private sector union and the largest union in the private sector retail and service industries.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...