(WINDSOR, ON) – Unifor is disappointed that some company executives, with operations in Windsor, are complaining about the province of Ontario’s plan to bring in a $15 minimum wage. In response to statements made by Loblaw, which operates Superstore, Zehrs, and No Frills locally, and Metro, which sells groceries under its own name as well as Food Basics, Unifor has disclosed the amount of compensation paid last year to senior managers.
“Instead of viewing the boost to Ontario’s minimum wage as an economic opportunity, these companies have chosen to focus public attention only on labour costs with its investors and the public,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president. “That is incredibly disappointing.”
The union estimates the anticipated minimum wage increases will positively affect 70 per cent of its members at Metro stores, as well as 90 per cent of members under Food Basics and No Frills banners. Unifor adds that a disproportionate number of the workers are women, working as clerks and cashiers.
In its estimation, the pay raises will boost part-time workers income by as much as $80 per week, based on a 24-hour work week.
Unifor Local 414 president Christine Connor, a Metro worker herself, predicts that a significant share of this new income will be directly spent in the stores.
“Many of our lowest-paid members simply can’t afford to shop where they work. Some are forced to use food banks,” Connor said. “This increase will not only drive more traffic to stores, it’s the socially responsible thing to do, and they need to get behind it.”
Metro CEO Eric La Fleche, who spoke publicly about various efforts to mitigate the added costs, including automation, earned a base salary in 2016 of $869,000. His total compensation package for the year was nearly $4 million.
La Fleche’s earnings are equivalent to a full-year salary of 285 part-time workers at minimum wage and working their full complement of hours.
Last year, Loblaw CEO Galen Weston Jr took home a total compensation package of $7.5 million, the equivalent to the salaries of 527 part-time workers.
“It is very difficult to take seriously the claims of these richly rewarded corporate CEOs, complaining about higher wages for their employees, who are the drivers of their business,” said Unifor’s national retail director Keith Osborne.