• Michael Laxer

Loblaw: Profits up, wages not

Loblaw Companies Ltd's "year-long pandemic winning streak marked by surging sales and profits" continues. But while profits may be up, worker wages are not.


Business is booming for Loblaw Companies Ltd.


What Bloomberg News described as the company's "year-long pandemic winning streak marked by surging sales and profits" continued as:


Loblaw said Wednesday its profits were up 30 per cent to $313 million in the first quarter of 2021 compared with a year ago. Revenues for the three months ended March 27 totalled $11.87 billion, up from $11.8 billion.

What has not gone up are the wages of their frontline workers.


Loblaw, along with other major grocery retail chains, rather infamously cancelled the pandemic pay premium of an extra $2 an hour in June, 2020 even though the danger to workers was far from over. Despite several further waves of cases in provinces across the country and despite the reintroduction of lockdown conditions in many hot spots, the company has refused to budge on the issue.


They also successfully defeated a 12 week strike by Dominion workers in Newfoundland who had fought to improve wages and working conditions.


This is all despite the fact that outgoing Loblaw President Sarah Davis was "paid $6.4 million in total compensation in 2020 while Executive Chairman and Director Galen Weston made $3.55 million."


Instead of a wage increase Loblaw recently "has instead opted to mete out a one-time payment ranging from as low as $25 to a maximum of $175 for full-time workers. Loblaw has also promised some ‘company-store’ employee discount events."


Unifor, which represents 5,400 Loblaw workers in four provinces, called this an "insult" and its president Jerry Dias said that the "unmitigated greed of Canada’s largest grocery retailer knows no limits. This paltry payment to frontline grocery workers, who are keeping us fed throughout this pandemic, is nothing short of a disgrace.”


Canada's second largest grocery retailer, Sobeys, reinstated the wage premium in April in areas with stay-at-home orders

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