Quebec cannabis retail strike continues with rotating closures at some stores

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Quebec’s government-owned cannabis retail monopoly says some of its locations where workers are on strike will be occasionally closed this summer because of the labor action, one for an “indefinite time.”

“More closures may be announced over the summer,” the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) said in a Monday update on the strike by employees represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The strike began in May with the union “demanding decent working conditions,” including salaries and benefits in line with other province-owned businesses.

Sixteen out of 22 stores currently affected by the strike will be closed for one or two weeks this summer, according to the SQDC’s latest update, with 67 unaffected by the closures or the strike.

The location that has been closed “for an indefinite time” was shuttered to support a nearby store with more traffic, according to SQDC spokesperson Fabrice Giguere.

“By doing so, we can maintain store operations in this area per our wish to maintain stores open during the strike in order to allow us to fulfill our mission and mandate of migrating consumers from the illicit market to the legal market,” Giguere told MJBizDaily via email.

Giguere said the government-owned corporation “fully recognizes the employees’ right to assert pressure tactics during the current negotiations.”

“Our goal is to come up with a negotiated deal to the satisfaction of all parties involved,” he added.

Giguere wrote that the rotating closures at stores with striking employees are meant to give managers an opportunity to rest.

Strike-affected stores that aren’t closed will be open from noon to 5 p.m. ET from Tuesday through Saturday. By contrast, SQDC stores are typically open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ET on weekends, he wrote.

Giguere encouraged shoppers affected by the strike to purchase their cannabis from SQDC online.

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In June, the SQDC ratified an agreement with striking workers represented by the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), a different public-sector workers’ union.

All the workers represented by the CSN have returned to work, with those stores open for business as usual, the SQDC told MJBizDaily.