Unionized workers at Kamloops' Hudson's Bay store have gone on strike

Hudson's Bay staff on strike

UPDATE: 11 a.m.

Several dozen unionized workers have gathered at the Hudson’s Bay Company at Aberdeen Mall to take strike action Sunday morning.

Jordan Lawrence, USW Local 1-417 financial secretary, estimated that between 30 and 40 unionized workers have congregated in front of the store’s multiple entrances.

“They will not come to the table with a fair collective agreement, they have concessions still on the table. They're trying to take things away from this 30-year-old collective agreement as well as they're not putting anything else on the table monetarily,” said Lawrence.

“The workers in this store are predominantly women and they're predominantly minorities, and we believe Hudson's Bay is trying to take advantage of that.”

Lawrence said the strike is a long time coming, but the picketers remain “very positive.” He said the Hudson’s Bay store will be closed temporarily and doesn’t see this changing as long as the picketing continues.

“We do not want this to affect any other store in the mall. We want all of the shoppers to come and frequent all of the other stores in the mall,” Lawrence said.

“We will not interfere if they open Hudson's Bay, we will obviously not stop people from coming in. But we don't want people to cross the picket line.”

Lawrence said the the picketers want a “fair and equitable” collective agreement and wages closer to or above a living wage.

ORIGINAL: 10:20 a.m.

Unionized workers at the Kamloops Hudson's Bay Company have gone on strike.

In a press release from the United Steelworkers union Local 1-417, the union announced that staff at the Kamloops department store have taken strike action as of Sunday morning, and they're encouraging the public not to do their holiday shopping at the store until their dispute is resolved.

The union says they've been working to negotiate a new collective agreement with Hudson's Bay since July, and they issued a 72-hour strike notice back on Dec. 6.

“Not only has Hudson’s Bay refused to pay a reasonable wage increase, it also continues to have concessionary items it wants to carve out of our 30-year-old collective agreement,” said Sean Ball, USW staff representative.

The union says after meeting with the company and a mediator at the B.C. Labour Relations Board last Tuesday, Hudson's Bay opted not to move on their proposed wage increase of 1% for each year of the contract.

“Our members have had enough, and during the busiest holiday time for Hudson’s Bay, it is time to send a message loud and clear that this is unacceptable,” said Jordan Lawrence, USW Local 1-417 financial secretary. “Our members will not put up with these bullying tactics from the company any longer.

“We understand the holiday season is a busy time and we want to assure shoppers and other tenants at Aberdeen Mall that we will not be outside the main mall entrances and will only have our picket lines set up in front of the Hudson’s Bay entrances. We encourage customers to shop at the mall but respectfully ask that they honour our legal picket line and find their gifts elsewhere.”

The employees of the Hudson's Bay store in Kamloops have been unionized since 1993. Their only labour dispute in their history was over their very first collective agreement, and that dispute lasted nine months.

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