OPSEU is calling on the LCBO to move swiftly and set up in-house security to combat the problem of theft in retail outlets. President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the LCBO has studied the problem long enough and needs to bring in concrete measures.
“We need a lot less talk from the LCBO and a little more action,” Thomas said. “Safety should be job one for management, end of story.”
The LCBO says its loss due to theft has been under $6-million a year. Thomas says he doesn’t buy that it’s that low, but adds that getting into a numbers battle is a waste of time.
“We can go back and forth all day long about the dollar cost of the theft problem, but the bottom line is it’s in the millions of dollars and that is not acceptable to the shareholders, the people of Ontario.”
OPSEU, which represents LCBO employees, has been pleading with the Crown corporation to take the issue of theft more seriously because it can put the safety of both workers and consumers at risk.
“We were glad the LCBO brought in off-duty uniformed police officers to monitor some stores, but that was a Band-Aid solution,” said Thomas. “What we need is trained in-house security whose only focus is to prevent theft at our LCBO outlets.”
Thomas noted that OPSEU members have observed there was a drop in theft in stores where uniformed officers were stationed. In some Toronto stores, thousands of dollars’ worth of alcohol is stolen in a single day and according to police in Toronto alone, there have been more than 9,000 incidents of theft in the past four-and-a-half years.
OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, a Corrections Officer, says given the theft problem, it’s bewildering that the Ford government is plowing ahead with plans to expand privatization of alcohol sales to corner stores.
“The theft problem in LCBO shows that selling alcohol in corner stores is just begging for trouble,” Almeida said.
“Employees in corner stores don’t have the same level of training as LCBO staff. They are often young precarious workers working alone, sometimes in remote locations. Unless the premier does a walk back on this ill-advised gift to his lobbyist pals, someone is going to get hurt by aggressive thieves.”