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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

NFLD Dominion workers vote to strike as Loblaw tries to downplay profit numbers

Dominion workers vote 94% for a strike mandate. Meanwhile Loblaw tries to claim quarterly profits of $162 million and soaring sales are somehow a negative, blaming pandemic pay.

Loblaw Companies LTD. released its quarterly numbers on July 23 and despite what were, actually, very good results, managed to try spin them in a negative way to try to justify cutting the $2 an hour pandemic pay to workers.

The company certainly had the corporate media playing ball with headlines like:

Sounds bad, eh?

Well don't feel too bad for the poor little rich chain quite yet as the headlines really fail to tell the whole story.

Food sales at the grocery giant, which also operates the Real Canadian Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills brands, hit $8.7 billion in the quarter ending June 13, up $889 million compared to a year ago.

Loblaw Cos Ltd (L.TO) beat quarterly revenue and profit estimates on Thursday, driven by a near four-fold jump in online sales, as stay-at-home Canadians used the retailer’s pick-up and delivery services to stock up on bread, milk and eggs...
...A 280% surge in e-commerce sales lifted Loblaw’s revenue about 7.4% to C$11.96 billion ($8.93 billion) in the second quarter ended June 13. That beat analysts’ estimates of C$11.87 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv .
Adjusted net earnings fell nearly 29% to C$266 million, or 74 Canadian cents per share, due to employee bonuses. Analysts had expected a profit of 71 Canadian cents per share.
The company’s food retail same-stores sales rose 10% in the quarter.

Not quite the bleak picture implied in the headlines above.

Yesterday, Loblaw announced $162 million in second quarter net profits, bringing total 2020 profits to nearly half a billion dollars and likely on pace to break the $1 billion profit mark by year's end.

Hard to see how this is bad news, unless, of course, it is really about trying to scapegoat workers.

Jerry Dias, President of Unifor, was not having it:

Sadly, the company used its quarterly results as an opportunity to blame the $2 pandemic pay and COVID-19 protective equipment for frontline workers as an excuse for a dip in the corporation's overall net profit It speaks to the sheer greed of Loblaw management that they begrudge a meager increase for workers that make less than $15 an hour for the most part despite the fact that sales at its grocery stores increased a whopping 10% over last year.

Dominion workers in Newfoundland, a grocery chain owned by Loblaw, are not likely to be convinced either. They just voted 94% in favour of a strike mandate with a strike deadline set for 12:01 a.m. Friday July 31, 2020.

According to Carolyn Wrice, President of Unifor Local 597:

Last year Dominion cut 60 full-time positions at stores in Newfoundland while its parent company Loblaw raked in more than $1 billion in net profits. Now Loblaw has stripped pandemic pay from these essential workers despite the ongoing risk of COVID-19 while they refuse to offer a fair wage increase during contract negotiations.


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