The North Star


Nova Scotia upscale grocery store workers on strike

Pete’s Frootique workers remain steadfast despite management’s stalling

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As workers at Sobeys-owned Pete's Frootique in Halifax near their second month of strike, information pickets were held across Canada by Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Local 2. Picketers displayed signs adorned with a nickel, a symbol of the insulting five-cent hourly wage increase offered to the workers.

These pickets were held in 13 cities across Canada in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia to raise awareness about the "insultingly low" wage increase offered to striking grocery workers by the monopolistic Sobeys.

At an information picket in Hamilton, Ontario, members of SEIU and supporters from the community carried picket signs and distributed flyers encouraging shoppers to boycott Sobeys and its subsidiaries until management is willing to offer a fair wage. Besides Pete's Frootique, Sobeys owns Farm Boy, Foodland, FreshCo, IGA, Safeway, and Thrifty Foods.

North Star spoke with Tom Galivan, Secretary-Treasurer and Director of Organizing for SEIU Local 2. "Management doesn't want an agreement. They want to send a message." Galivan went on to say that before the strike, workers at Pete's Frootique "couldn't even afford to shop at their own store." Nevertheless, he emphasized that "the workers are absolutely more determined than ever".

Galivan indicated that this labour dispute has produced one of very few private sector strikes to come out of Nova Scotia in the last decade. The province of nearly a million has seen only seven private sector strikes since 2014 and only one in the last five years.

"Organizing started back in 2022, but has been delayed by legal objections from management to break the union and delay strike action", said Galivan. "It's been delay, delay, delay, and then they offer an unacceptable deal to delay even more."

In spite of these holdups and shamefully low offers, the workers have remained steadfast in their demands and are prepared to stay on strike until a fair deal is made.

"The only way workers can win is by successfully organizing," said Galivan. He stressed that workers who find themselves in a similar situation "need to organize, build broad support, and get other workers down to the picket line".

grèvistes sur la ligne de piquetage à Pete's Frootique
Striking Pete's Frootique workers on the picket line in Halifax

These sentiments were shared by Tom Atterton, a member of the Hamilton community who joined the picket line in support of the striking workers at Pete's. "There's strength in numbers, and non-unionized workers need to get organized". 

Atterton explained the importance of building networks of community support when it comes to labour struggles like the one at Pete's Frootique. "None of us work for Pete's, but there is widespread support because of the network in place."

While the union is hopeful that management will return to the bargaining table with a fair offer, they are prepared to escalate the strike action if management continues with its current tactics of delays and unreasonable offers.

"On January 6th, the plan is to expand the action if no deal is met" said Galivan. "At that time, they will cease to be information pickets. We will start to shut these stores down and physically block people from coming in and out of the store."

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