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Zellers workers, concerned community members, elected officials, and UFCW Canada activists gathered in front of two Calgary Zellers stores on October 13 to protest Target's mistreatment of Zellers workers and to ask the American-based retailer to respect the experience, service, and loyalty of Zellers workers when converting existing retail locations to Target stores.
"We're asking the Calgary community for their support and making sure that they're aware of what's happening to Zellers workers when Target comes into Canada," Louise (Lou) Craig, a union representative for UFCW Canada Local 401, told CBC News. "I spoke to one lady who had 31 years seniority with Zellers and she's been told to re-apply at Target. That's not fair."
Since acquiring Zellers, Target has taken a Walmart-like approach to workers by refusing to respect the loyalty, experience, and labour rights of Zellers workers. Target has told Zellers workers – including those with more than 30 years experience – that they will have to reapply for the same jobs that they had before, in the same locations, for starting pay and standards.This means Zellers workers will lose the wages, benefits, seniority, and vacation time that they have earned over many years of service.
“Alberta needs good retail jobs to strengthen our communities and provide a reasonable standard of living for working families," Douglas O’Halloran, President of UFCW Canada Local 401, told reporters. "By refusing to respect the rights of Zellers workers, Target is telling Alberta that it’s not interested in being a positive force for our province and economy. So today we're sending a message that Target must respect the rights and dignity of Zellers workers in this province."
The protests were held outside of the Forest Lawn and Signal Hill Zellers stores, both of which are being converted to Target stores and are slated to re-open in 2013. Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees also attended the Forest Lawn rally, where NDP MLA David Eggen addressed protestors. "These are people who we want to make sure can have a fair shake and a living wage so that they can look after themselves and their families," Eggen said.