1400 Liquor Mart employees in Manitoba remain on strike

The province wide Liquor Mart strike, affecting 1400 employees, continues with no end in sight, as workers continue to demand a new contract and a wage increase. Alex Karpa reports.

The Province-wide Liquor Mart strike affecting 1,400 employees continues with no end in sight, as workers continue to demand a new contract and a wage increase.

Manitoba Liquor Mart workers have been without a contract since the previous one expired in March of 2022. Small-scale strikes began on July 19 but escalated to a full one a week ago.

“We’re really trying to work out a deal. Our members want a deal that’s fair and reasonable and it has been difficult,” said Kyle Ross, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union.

“We’ve been trying. We’ve passed ideas and they have not passed any back. They just continue to say arbitration or nothing and there is lots of time and Manitobans unfortunately have to suffer because the employer and the government will not let them move or change their offer.”

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries announced on Monday that it had accepted a conciliator’s recommendation to end the strike through binding arbitration. The Crown Corporation, offering a two per cent increase over four years, but the union is seeking wage increases in line with what Premier Heather Stefanson and her cabinet are set to receive – 3.3 per cent in 2023 and 3.6 per cent in both 2024 and 2025.

“Our members just want the same. They have earned that raise,” said Ross.


President Gerry Sul of Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries says there are two options to ending this strike at this time.

“It’s arbitration now, or it’s arbitration on September 17. Again, for the benefit of their members, to get the process started, we want to see it start sooner than later,” said Sul.

Sul hopes a deal can be completed soon to get workers back into the stores.

“Summer is short in Manitoba as it is, but I think we look forward to having these employees back in the workplace, doing what they do best, and that is serving our customers,” said Sul.

Dr. Barry Prentice, a professor of supply chain management at the University of Manitoba says the ongoing liquor strike disrupts the supply chain of both liquor and beer and raises the question of public vs private.

“I was astounded at how people are employed. Do we really need that many people to bottles of shelves and check it out? To me, it seems like there could be a case of overstaffing and that does happen in Crown Corporations. It’s one of those things we look at in terms of efficiency. I don’t hear much of that in the union discussion, but maybe if they cut down on the workforce, they could raise the wages,” explained Dr. Prentice.

At this time, only eight Liquor Marts remain open with limited hours across the province.

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