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LCBO robbery raises red flags about alcohol privatization: OPSEU

LCBO Keep it public. OPSEU.

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is raising red flags about the privatization of alcohol after a security guard was injured during a robbery at a Thunder Bay LCBO this week.

“LCBO employees keep our communities safe,” said Thomas. “They are professionals who take social responsibility seriously. If folks think alcohol thefts are bad now, just imagine the dangers when there’s booze on the shelf at your corner store, but no security; just an untrained clerk behind the counter.”  

The injured security guard was taken to hospital with cuts to his jaw and neck after confronting two individuals suspected of attempting to steal liquor.

“Selling controlled substances is a dangerous business,” said Thomas. “It’s why the government should focus its efforts and invest in properly-trained security. This guard was trying to do his duty, but no employee should be asked to put their health and safety – or even their life – on the line without the appropriate resources.”

OPSEU – the union representing 8500 LCBO workers – has been calling for frequent and ongoing training for staff and security, including de-escalation training. In an effort to ensure that no employee is working alone, Thomas says there should be at least two security staff on hand who can immediately arrest perpetrators at LCBO locations.

“This is a matter of life and death,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “We need to invest in a steady and highly-trained workforce within the LCBO, not dump this security disaster off to the private sector, where employers often cut corners in order to cut costs.

“Convenience stores run on skeleton staff,” said Almeida. “We can’t possibly expect those employees to take on this risk. We can’t possibly expect private employers to invest in appropriate theft training for their employees – whether that’s at corner stores or large chain grocery stores.”

Thomas pointed out when it comes to alcohol thefts, expanding the sale of alcohol to private retailers is like throwing sheep to the wolves.

“It’s a recipe for a public health and safety disaster,” said Thomas. “The Premier seems to have forgotten that the ‘C’ in LCBO stands for control. The architects of the Crown corporation knew what they were doing when they came up with the name.

“Where LCBO security has been bumped up, we’ve seen positive results,” said Thomas. “It’s time to focus on solutions that keep our kids and communities safe by investing in our public system.” 

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931