Leading retail union slams Harper Conservatives for “doing nothing” to protect good retail jobs at Zellers

TORONTO – The National President of Canada’s leading retail union is calling on Canadians to take the Federal government to task for abandoning over 28,000 Zellers workers and discounting the important role of good retail jobs in the country’s local and national economies.

“All of us as Canadians should be very concerned about the disregard Stephen Harper has demonstrated toward Zellers workers and the tremendous contributions they make to our communities and country,” says Wayne Hanley, the national leader of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

“The HBC’s announced closure of 63 Zellers stores is devastating news for a large number of Canadian families, but all of us need to know that those 6,300 lost jobs are only part of a much larger job drain – of good, full-time retail jobs – that Target, Walmart and the Federal government do not want Canadians to know about,” adds Hanley.

On July 26, the Hudson Bay Company announced that it will close most of its Zellers stores by next March. The 64 Zellers stores owned by HBC were excluded from an earlier deal with Target, which gave Target the rights to 220 Zellers locations across the country. Target then resold 39 of the Zellers locations to fellow American retailer Walmart. Since acquiring Zellers, both Target and Walmart have refused to respect the loyalty, experience and labour rights of Zellers workers, and both corporations have told Zellers workers – even those with more than 30 years experience – that they will have to reapply for their same jobs, in the same locations, for starting pay and standards.

“The Federal government’s top priority is supposed to be protecting the well-being of its citizens, but the Harper government’s blank response to the mistreatment of Zellers workers is a clear indication that it cares more about the interests of large, American corporations,” adds Hanley. “As Canadians, we must tell Stephen Harper that doing nothing to protect the hard-earned living standards of Canadians, and to check the unbridled foreign ownership of our national industries, is irresponsible and reckless management of our country, and our future, and as voters we won’t stand for it.”

The HBC announcement follows the federal government’s official approval of Target’s agenda for Canada, which promises a thin line of Canadian products, “but offers no guarantees to the actual Canadians and their communities who will be most impacted by the takeover,” says Hanley.

UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union and leading retail workers' union representing more than a quarter of a million workers across the country. Together with Zellers workers and community allies, UFCW Canada is leading the fight for fairness in Canada’s retail industry through www.targetfairness.ca and other social justice campaigns.