Customers annoyed by liquor rationing, no talks planned between BC government and union

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“It’s absolutely sad that our businesses are being subjected to this. The ideal situation would be for them to come back to the bargaining table and open the warehouses in good faith before they cause further destruction in our industry. — Ian Tostenson , President of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

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After the first weekend of industrial action and liquor rationing that left some customers unhappy, there was no sign that negotiations would resume between the BC Government Employees Union and the province.

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On Sunday, British Columbia Ministry of Finance officials said it was ‘status quo’ on the negotiating front – and there were no changes to ration limits at grocery stores. government liquor.

The BCGEU bargaining team has rejected the Civil Service Agency’s latest 10.99% three-year wage hike. The last formal negotiation meeting took place on July 4th.

Union representatives did not immediately respond to questions on Sunday.

The BCGEU’s “targeted work action” saw 950 workers leave their jobs early last week at BC Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centers in Delta, Richmond, Kamloops and Victoria.

This means that no alcohol or cannabis will be distributed to businesses in BC, and while businesses such as restaurants and pubs can restock from retail stores, this will only last as long as retail stores will start to run out.

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Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said Sunday he had already addressed restaurant owners’ concerns over the weekend.

Tostenson said the effects on restaurants and their thousands of workers will be far-reaching, including a “drop in the bucket” for some if industrial action continues for some time, as they will not have access to spirits such as vodka and import wines and beers. They can directly access BC wines and beers.

Tostenson said the action at work comes at such a difficult time, as restaurants were just beginning to put themselves in a better position after the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said a direct appeal to the BCGEU to open liquor warehouses did not go very far.

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“It’s absolutely sad that our businesses are subject to this,” Tostenson said. “The ideal situation would be for them to come back to the negotiating table and open the warehouses in good faith before they cause more destruction in our industry.”

Shoppers were already upset on Saturday that industrial action had forced them to ration their alcohol purchases at government-run retailers.

Although British Columbians are now confined to buying three copies of the same item, with the exception of beer, it is the lack of products on store shelves that has been the cause of the frustration.

“I couldn’t even get what I came for,” a woman told Postmedia as she walked out of a BC Liquor Store in East Vancouver.

“The only thing I drink, Okanagan apple cider, was sold out. I had to buy another – I’m not happy with it.

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Another customer, a man, told Postmedia he bought two bottles of Smirnoff vodka because the larger variety he normally buys had sold out.

“The shelves are emptying,” he said, noting the “temporarily unavailable” tag that tagged many empty stock areas in the store.

The picketing began Monday afternoon after the BCGEU gave the province a 72-hour strike notice after months of bargaining.

The LDB said the “modest” limitations are intended to ensure there is enough alcohol to circulate “for as many customers as possible”.

In a statement on Friday, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon urged ordinary customers not to panic buy, encouraging them to “respect the purchase limits put in place to support equity”.

“Not everyone has the same ability to make large purchases and we don’t want customers to be disadvantaged,” Kahlon said.

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For private retailers, bars and pub owners in Vancouver, the employment indecisiveness has brought new concern.

Simon Fallick, the owner of The American and Hero’s Welcome, said if the industrial action continues for more than two weeks, his next warehouse order could leave him running out of vodka.

“Anyone with a liquor license must buy from the government all imported items that pass through their warehouses. Since the vodka we use, Absolut, comes from Sweden, this disruption in the supply chain is a nuisance,” Fallick said.

“Fortunately, most of our business is based on selling local beer and wine.”

Although most private liquor stores do not intend to impose similar purchase limits, one Vancouver retailer, Legacy Liquor Store, has opted to limit customers’ daily purchases to 12 bottles of wine. and six bottles of spirits.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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