The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) moments ago filed a legal claim against the LCBO and the Ontario government for wage discrimination against female employees at the Crown-owned corporation.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas delivered the Application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The LCBO has deliberately created a core workforce of mainly women, who commonly work 25 to 40 hours per week throughout the year, but that management classifies as 'casuals', OPSEU says in its claim. The LCBO does this so it can pay thousands of workers less and restrict benefits and promotions, says the claim.
OPSEU represents some 7,000 Ontarians in LCBO stores, warehouses, and offices. Only about 2,800 are full-time. About 70 per cent of the remainder are women working in retail stores — classified as casuals — who earn 23 to 38 per cent less than full-time employees doing identical work. Most have worked for the LCBO for more than a decade.
"The LCBO and the government that controls it have refused to end wage discrimination for LCBO employees," said Thomas. "In fact, continued discrimination seems to be part of their business plan. In the past five years, only 15 per cent of new jobs were full-time."
The union has tried to fix the problem both at the bargaining table and through arbitration. Even where remedies were ordered, the employer, over time, recreated the discrimination the remedies were meant to end, says the claim. OPSEU's claim documents "the distinctly gendered history of how part-time work developed at the LCBO" and how systemic sex discrimination continues today.
"The LCBO has been a jewel in the Ontario Crown," said Thomas. "The Corporation and the government that controls it have been lauded for their success. And now they will be held accountable for their shame.
We believe the Tribunal will find the LCBO and the Ontario Government are violating the Ontario Human Rights Code and will order an end to wage discrimination against women."
Warren (Smokey) Thomas President, OPSEU,613-329-1931
Sheila Keenan, OPSEU Communications, 416-802-1251