Kamloops Hudson's Bay strike at 'standstill' after negotiations fall through

HBC strike at 'standstill'

Negotiations between striking Kamloops workers and the Hudson’s Bay Company are again at a standstill after both sides refused to budge on terms.

Jordan Lawrence, USW Local 1-417 financial secretary, said a meeting Monday with the company and a mediator “didn’t go well.”

“They're not moving off of their wage offer and we are definitely not moving. So we're kind of at a standstill,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the workers are being offered a one per cent wage increase for each contract year, but they are seeking more.

“Their lead negotiator, when we were discussing the one per cent, he said, and this is a direct quote, ‘You can stay on strike forever, it’s not going to change,’” Lawrence said of the meeting.

“We've been trying to think outside the box, think of some different ways that HBC might be able to structure it so that they can still say they didn't give more than one per cent because that's what they're saying as well — 'We only gave one per cent to the rest of the unionized stores, so we can't possibly give you more.'”

Unionized workers first took strike action Dec. 10 and the company’s Aberdeen Mall location has been shuttered since.

Lawrence said workers have had concerns of the store shuttering permanently in the back of their minds since the strike began.

“There’s been no talk of it. So we’re not worried about it happening right away, but it’s definitely there in the backs of our minds,” he said.

Despite the workers feeling “disappointed” that common ground couldn’t be met, Lawrence said they are feeling “recharged” after negotiations fell through yesterday.

“They see how HBC thinks of them, and it makes them want to be out there more to show them that they’re not going to back down,” Lawrence said.

In a statement, HBC said the company remains committed to the bargaining process and is looking forward to reaching a resolution.

“Hudson’s Bay appreciates the hard work and dedication of its store associates, who serve our customers every day,” the statement reads.

“We regret the disruption in our Kamloops store and hope to return to serving our customers as soon as possible.”

Lawrence said the workers remain resolved and are prepared to strike indefinitely if needed.

Aberdeen Mall officials have not replied to Castanet.

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