BCGEU contract dispute could lead to shortage of imported alcohol supply

Restaurant-goers in British Columbia might have fewer beer or wine choices the next time they dine out.

Indeed, the hospitality industry, which includes pubs and restaurants, could run out of supplies of imported alcohol if the General Employees Union strike continues.

Alliance of Beverage Licensees executive director Jeff Guignard told Vista Radio that the industry could not afford a lengthy shutdown of the four liquor distribution branches in Kamloops, Richmond, Delta and Victoria.

“95% of the hospitality industry in BC doesn’t even have enough staff right now and they still haven’t recovered from all the debt they’ve incurred and the losses they’ve suffered over the years. the pandemic.”

“It’s the last thing we need,” Guignard said.

He adds that if the contractual dispute continues between the province and the BCGEU, the situation will only get worse.

“The longer this goes on, the more severe the impacts will be for the BC liquor industry in general. You will see the shelves start to run out and you will see that the favorite brands you want to go for will be moved and other products will be in place. You will still be able to get some products, but maybe not the ones you want.

“Ultimately, we’re going to see the impact on store shelves within a week or two and you’ll probably see the impact on restaurants by the end of the week.”

Guignard said 40% of the alcohol they buy for pubs, restaurants and private liquor stores comes from striking liquor distribution centres.

“This is putting a damper on the alcohol supply for all British Columbians. I think coming out of the pandemic is unfair and irresponsible. What the BCGEU has made of this situation and this is our frustration is that whatever their dispute they have now made of it about the entire liquor distribution industry. By picketing outside these warehouses, they are impacting $15 billion in economic activity, thousands of small businesses, and the 200,000 jobs of the people we employ. This is not our fight and we have nothing to do with it.

“That’s the primary function of a private liquor store, pub or restaurant. We’re here to serve customers and if we don’t have the products to sell it means we won’t be able to generate as much revenue which also means we’re going to have to cut our hours and possibly lay off staff in some case too. I don’t know how this is all going to pan out, but hopefully both sides can sit down and find a responsible solution, because it impacts a lot more people. We just hope the adults in the room can tell everyone to stop fighting and get a fair deal.

The union, which represents 33,000 workers, says wages and inflation protection are its top concerns.

He rejected a government offer of almost 11% over three years, demanding a clause to deal with the rising cost of living.

Union officials say that if the province does not return to the bargaining table with a better offer, the strike will intensify.

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