Over a dozen solidarity actions took place on Saturday to support workers on strike at Sobeys-owned Pete’s Frootique in Halifax. Information leaflets were handed out in Bedford, Digby, Dartmouth, Halifax and Yarmouth in Nova Scotia; Hamilton, London, Ottawa, St. Catharines and Toronto in Ontario; and Abbottsford, Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia.
Supporters asked the public not to shop at Sobeys or its subsidiaries during the holidays – not until Sobeys offers the striking workers a fair wage. In addition to Pete’s Frootique, the Sobeys-owned stores include Farm Boy, Foodland, FreshCo, IGA, Safeway and Thrifty Foods.
The workers’ strike is now in its fifth week, and they remain in high spirits.
“The public support has been phenomenal”, said Nicholas Cook, one of the striking workers. “It’s really what makes it feel like we’re going to be successful in this.”
“We’ll take this as far as we need to,” added Cook. “Our momentum hasn’t even started to stall. The public support is just building us up.”
Cook and his colleagues can expect more of that support.
January 6 Actions
The nature of the January 6 actions will be different. Pressure will be increased in the New Year and will include Sobeys distribution centers. While this past weekend’s actions were strictly information pickets, the next actions will be true secondary pickets. Everyone can expect delays when trying to access the stores.
The Union has always been ready to return to the bargaining table, but Sobeys, despite publicly indicating they are willing to negotiate, has not budged from the offer of a five-cent raise which would cover most of the employees.
The workers’ struggle has captured national attention, including that of elected leaders like the federal NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, and MP Alistair MacGregor, a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Celebrated artists like El Jones, Joel Plaskett, and most recently, award-winning author Kate Beaton, have also voiced support.
“You know there’s a lot of goodwill at Christmas but I’m not seeing any from Sobeys,” said Beaton at the Halifax action on Saturday. “I think we need to think harder about a company’s labour policies when we are considering where to buy our groceries.”
Beaton, a Canada Reads winner, also won the Eisner Awards for best writer/artist and best graphic memoir this year.