Maple Ridge Strikers Strong After 4 Years of Opposing Employer Demand of 50% Pay Cut
That’s how many holiday seasons the workers at Extra Foods in Maple Ridge have spent on the picket line. In snow, rain, and gusting gales, they crowd under their makeshift tents, outside of where some have worked for more than 20 years.
“No one ever thought we would be out here this long,” says Laura Nicolai, who’s worked at the store since 1991.
The strike began in 2008 after the employer announced plans to roll back workers’ wages by close to half.
Under the contract Loblaw wants them to sign, most workers would top out at $11.90, with no benefits.
The parent company Loblaws does close to $40 billion worth of business annually, and in November announced a 19.8 per cent increase in quarterly profits, with net earnings at $236 million for the third quarter of 2010, up from $197 million over the same period a year earlier.
“It’s not like we are asking for a raise,” says Nicolai.
They just don’t want their pay cut in half.
“If anyone thinks we should just go back to work, how would they like it if their pay was cut by 50 per cent, if your benefits were cut by 50 per cent,” she said. “We’re taking a stand. This isn’t right.”
“We’ve given decades of service to this company and that doesn’t seem to mean anything,” she says. “This company doesn’t need to drop the wages. It’s corporate greed and companies will keep doing this unless you stand up.”