Sears Canada locks out warehouse workers: union

Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:33pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Retailer Sears Canada has locked out about 500 workers at a warehouse in Vaughan, Ontario, north of Toronto, following a bargaining deadlock over compensation, the union said on Monday.

Staff representative Terry Bea of the United Steelworkers union, said workers in charge of loading and unloading merchandise on to trucks for delivery across the region had been locked out since April 1, after a deadline to reach a new contract agreement expired on March 31.

"On April 1st both parties were in a legal strike or lockout position and the company opted to lock us out," Bea told Reuters.

"We'll remain on the picket line until we can get back to the bargaining table."

He said Sears locked employees out after refusing to extend negotiations that had become deadlocked over issues of compensation and working conditions.

The department store chain was unavailable for immediate comment.

Bea said the warehouse was still operating, with management employees loading trucks.

"Throughout negotiations Sears refused to move from their original position of rollbacks to pensions, healthcare benefits, vacation entitlement and other standard provisions," Bea said in an earlier statement.

Toronto-based Sears Canada is a unit of U.S.-based Sears Holdings Corp. It has a network of 197 corporate stores and 204 dealer stores across the country.   Continued...