October 22nd, 2021

Sobeys Canada defends job losses at Safeway

By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on September 8, 2021.


Sobeys Canada admits its plan to convert the Safeway location at the Medicine Hat Mall to its lower cost brand, FreshCo, will result in job loses, but says it will strengthen the company.

Last week, the union representing workers at the grocery store said the changeover was ill-advised and would disrupt what’s been a well-performing Safeway location.

Construction planned for the first half of 2022 will lead to a complete closure of the food store until later that year, while the gas bar will be closed permanently.

“Many factors are taken into consideration when deciding to close a store,” reads an emailed response by the company to inquiries by the News.

“We must remain committed to changing and strengthening our business to offer the best service to our customers in this highly competitive grocery market.”

Sobeys-Safeway parent company, Empire, states it will work with employees and their union this fall to “ensure the terms of their collective agreement are met.”

The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local No. 401, has said up to 80 per cent of the workers at the location could be laid off, while senior-most workers could transfer to other local outlets.

There is no information available about preferential status for current employees in the rehiring process.

Empire has committed to opening 65 FreshCo locations in Alberta. In Medicine Hat, a temporary pharmacy will be located elsewhere in the mall during construction, and the FreshCo will include a pharmacy.

“By doing this we can continue to create good, stable jobs for Albertans and the more than 134,000 Canadians we employ across the country,” the statement reads.

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