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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Outrage as Loblaw profits and dividends rise, but workers left out

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

Profits and dividends up, pandemic pay gone, and 12 week Dominion strike ends with little improvement for workers.

Many took to social media to express outrage after Loblaw released soaring third quarter profit numbers and raised shareholder dividends while refusing to bring back pandemic pay for its frontline workers.

The grocery and drugstore retailer recorded higher profit and sales for the 16 weeks ended Oct. 3, with food retail same-store sales climbing 6.9 per cent in the quarter while drug retail same-store sales climbed 6.1 per cent.
Loblaw president Sarah Davis said the retailer's conventional grocery store division, comprised of brands such as Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, Real Atlantic Superstore and Provigo, "continued with its 2020 winning streak" with same-store sales up 9.7 per cent.
The company's discount division, which includes No Frills and Maxi, delivered 4.7 per cent growth.

As a result the company "raised its third-quarter dividend by two cents to 33.5 cents per share, up from 31.5 cents per share."

This comes after Loblaw posted $162 million in second quarter net profits, bringing total 2020 profits to nearly half a billion dollars, and after news that from "March to September, during the first wave of COVID-19, the Weston family’s net worth increased a whopping $1.6 billion dollars."

The "winning streak" rather conspicuously leaves out workers though. The company has made it clear that it has no intention of bringing back the $2 an hour in pandemic premium pay that was cancelled in June.

This apparent avarice was met immediately with scorn, derision and anger online:

Meanwhile, one group of workers under the Loblaw corporate umbrella who were trying to fight back against low wages and precarious working conditions appear to have mostly failed to gain any new concessions.

Dominion workers in Newfoundland had been on strike for 12 weeks during which time the company only returned to the bargaining table once for talks that quickly broke down. The company was obviously trying to make an example of the workers and felt that it had the power to wait them out.

Last week an arbitrator presented a "final offer" from Loblaw that apparently only slightly improved upon the initial one. On November 13 the workers ratified it.

Unifor tried to put a positive spin on this in their press release, but this is pretty clearly a defeat in spite of brave resistance by workers who rejected the original offer overwhelmingly even when it was recommended by the union.

That Loblaw could win against 1,400 workers over a period of weeks despite the terrible optics and public backlash, and that they persist in eliminating pandemic pay despite record profits shows that they know exactly where the power lies right now in the country. And it is not with workers.



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