WINNIPEG — The union representing front-line grocery and retail workers in Manitoba is calling on Loblaw to cancel an upcoming “no-tax” event at its Real Canadian Superstore locations.
UFCW Local 832 says the event is promoting the sale of non-essential goods and will draw large crowds to the stores, at a time when Manitobans are being told to stay home by health officials and only leave for essentials amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sale is on non-essential items only and is slated to be held in every province west of Quebec,” said Jeff Traeger, president of UFCW Local 832.
“We believe this goes against the intent of the Public Health Order for Manitoba by encouraging people to leave their homes for non-essentials goods. During a pandemic, Loblaw is driving even more people to their already over-crowded Superstores.”
The no-tax event runs from April 24-30 on non-food items like gardening supplies, clothing, barbeques and patio furniture.
The union has written a letter to Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, and wants to see the province intervene to put a stop to the sales event.
“We see this sale as reckless and irresponsible,” Traeger said, “It puts our members and the public at risk for non-essential shopping reasons, and we call on Loblaw to use a common sense approach at this time and cancel this sale.”
Catherine Thomas, senior director, external communications with Loblaw, says the company has made changes to their operations in recent weeks to keep customers and colleagues safe.
“We have extended it [the no-tax promotion] from two days to seven, which means customers can benefit when they do their usual weekly shop, without making an extra trip,” Thomas told ChrisD.ca in an email. “Many of the deals are available online for curbside pick-up but for those shopping in store, we are still controlling physical distancing and the number of shoppers, so it will be as safe as any other day.
“Governments have determined the categories we can sell and have encouraged retailers to offer the best prices possible. Like many other retailers, that’s what we are doing. We regret that the union has chosen to take exception to a thoughtful promotion, run in just 5 per cent of our stores.”