Kamloops Hudson's Bay workers relieved as strike ends | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops Hudson's Bay workers relieved as strike ends

FILE PHOTO - Workers at the Hudson's Bay in Kamloops will finally get back to work after nearly six months on the picket line.

The Kamloops Hudson's Bay store is expected to reopen next month as the more than five month strike comes to a close.

Workers took to the picket lines on Dec. 10, 2023 at the Aberdeen Mall department store demanding higher wages.

Union spokesperson Jordan Lawrence couldn't provide many details about the deal struck between workers and the company, but he said the employees were ready to get back to work.

"I think it's mostly relief. You can see it in their eyes," he said when asked about how workers felt about the contract. "You can just tell these are people who were wanting to be working and they couldn't."

The strike started when Hudson's Bay and the United Steelworkers Union local 1-417, representing the retail workers since 1993, hit a stalemate as they sought to renew their contract.

The employer offered a 1% raise and was looking to take back some employee benefits, Lawrence said.

Benefits won't be changed and employees were able to get a wage increase of more than 1%. Just how much that will be, however, he didn't say.

Lawrence also said some employees will return to work while others likely won't, suggesting the new contract didn't get unanimous agreement. But it takes "bravery" to go up against an employer and strike, he said, especially for more nearly half a year.

"I'm extremely proud of our members," he said.

Hudson's Bay did not say whether there will be layoffs at the Kamloops department store, but Lawrence said he "could not imagine" there would be any, especially with the new contract.

The province appointed a mediator earlier this month in an effort to find a resolution between the union and Hudson's Bay. The company thanked the mediator, David Schuab, for his work, who came in after months of little, if any, negotiating between the union and the employer. 

"There's going to be a lot of work to be done," Lawrence said of the store's reopening, noting that the store is full of six-month old product that will be replenished.

Hudson's Bay did not provide any details about the new deal when reached for comment, but did say the Kamloops store should reopen by the second week of June.

"Hudson’s Bay is pleased that an agreement with the union representing the associates at its Kamloops location has been ratified. We are happy with the outcome, and look forward to welcoming associates back to store and serving our customers in the community," Bay spokesperson Tiffany Bourre said in an emailed statement.

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