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UFCW Canada finds Loblaw comments "unacceptable"

May 3 2001 - UFCW Canada Director Michael Fraser attacked comments made by company chair Galen Weston at Loblaw's AGM in Halifax. Weston told reporters that the company is looking for "more flexibility" in its labour relationships. A statement by company president John Lederer added, "It is important for both union leaders and our employees to recognize this evolving competitive landscape ..."

Fraser said that the solid financial health of Loblaw Companies Ltd. should be an indicator of good times ahead for its employees.

"This is a time for the Loblaw companies to be enjoying their prosperity and sharing those benefits with the workers who make the profits possible. Instead, there appears to be a coded message in these statements, and that is that Loblaws wants to lower the high benchmark our union has set for workers in this industry," says Fraser.

"They seem to be intent on trying to drive down the high standards that UFCW Canada members currently enjoy, all because they feel threatened by what they call 'non-union mass merchandisers' like Wal-Mart. Well, we're not dealing with Wal-Mart. We're dealing with Loblaw. When Galen Weston is taking home $20-million a year, and (retired president) Richard Currie gets a $10- million going-away present, this is simply unacceptable. Rather than making such unproductive use of its profits, the company should be reinvesting that kind of money into its most valuable resource, the workers who have made Loblaw such a leader in its industry. UFCW Canada will ensure that our members are rewarded for the contribution they make to the continued success of this employer."

Loblaw is a major employer in Canada with 114,000 people of whom about 89,000 are unionized, most being members of UFCW Canada. UFCW Canada is concentrated mainly in the food retailing and production industries and represents more than 220,000 Canadian workers.

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