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Loblaws, union sign part-time workers deal

Pilot program would give workers more predictable schedules

Warm winds of change in labour relations continue to blow over Loblaws.

A month after ratifying a six-deal with the union that represents 12,000 of its employees–avoiding a strike in the process–Canada's biggest food retailer has inked another deal with the United Food and Commercial Workers that aims to make life easier for part-time workers.

Under the terms of the new deal, according to the Toronto Star, Loblaws Great Foods and Superstores will introduce several pilot projects to make the schedules of part-time workers more predictable, and guarantee them better hours.

According to The Star, the first test was launched this month.

It provides part-timers with ten days advance notice of scheduling, instead of the previous three–a longstanding source of irritation for part-time workers with families, studies and other jobs to juggle in their daily lives.

The new deal reportedly contains an obligation on Loblaws to implement the approach in all of its stores if workers want it after test running the approach over the next year in an unidentified number of pilot projects.

That appears likely to happen, judging by comments made by Pearl Sawyer, president of UFCW 1000a.

“Our members are just ecstatic about the concept,” Sawyer told The Star. “Life is so busy. And it’s no one size fits all.”

Neither Sawyer nor Loblaws returned requests for interviews about the deal.

But it appears to reflect the goodwill that emanated from last month's agreement, which also contained a commitment from Ontario's Ministry of Labour to facilitate and sponsor efforts to improve communications and relationships between the company, the union and its employees .

“In a competitive market, the terms of the contract provide both our colleagues and our company a fair deal and security,” Kevin Groh, Loblaws vice president of communications, said then.

"Ultimately, it sets the stage for an even stronger relationship.”

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