Worker Resilience on Display: Halifax Employees Launch Strike at Sobeys-Owned Market, Vowing Not to Back Down

"Workers Take a Stand: Pete’s Frootique Staff in Halifax Launch Strike for Fair Wages

Amidst a sea of striking workers and supporters, Pete's Frootique, a Sobeys-owned grocer in Halifax, temporarily closed its doors as employees initiated a strike to demand improved wages and benefits. The picket line outside the store on Dresden Row was adorned with signs bearing messages such as "Pete’s works because we do" and "I can’t afford to shop here," surrounding a prominent banner declaring, "Pay workers fair wages."

Terry Armour, a Pete's employee from the produce department, expressed the collective determination of the striking workers, stating, "We’re done with the delay tactics and we’re demanding fair wages for everybody who works here." According to SEIU 2, the union representing Pete’s employees, the grocer currently pays the provincial minimum wage of $15 per hour. Sobeys, the parent company, recently offered "a 20 cent per hour raise or less for over 70% of the workers" in the most recent bargaining sessions. The union emphasized that the majority would only see a five-cent increase, falling significantly short of the living wage in Halifax, estimated at $26.50 per hour for two adults supporting two children.

Despite no new offers from the supermarket chain since October 30, workers remain steadfast in their demand for fair compensation. Terry Armour highlighted the inadequacy of the proposed raise, stating, "A year and a half after voting to unionize, the best offer that Sobeys was able to put forward for us would’ve seen me and about half of my coworkers get a five-cent per hour raise. Which is not an offer, it’s a joke."

The strike, initiated after months of negotiations since the staff voted to join the SEIU 2 union in March 2022, symbolizes the collective resilience of workers standing up for their rights and fair compensation in the face of corporate resistance."

"Solidarity Echoes: Halifax Rally Draws Support for Striking Pete's Frootique Workers

The rallying cry for fair wages echoed loud and clear in Halifax as striking Pete's Frootique workers, alongside members of the SEIU Local 2 union, garnered support from various labour and community leaders. Notable among them was Gary Burrill, Halifax-Chebucto MLA and former provincial New Democratic Party leader, who passionately asserted, "Every single person deserves the right to be able to make enough at work to support themselves."

Amid the chanting workers, Burrill expressed unwavering confidence in their cause, stating, "We believe in you and what you’re standing for, and more importantly, we have every confidence that you’re going to win." The demonstration reached its symbolic peak as Pete's workers collectively held cut-out printings of a nickel with a frown, symbolizing the meager five-cent per hour raise offered in the retailer's latest proposal.

The crowd united in chanting, "Sobeys, Sobeys, you’re all greed, pay your people what they need," emphasizing the collective demand for fair compensation. Serena Gagné, a cash supervisor at Pete's for the last four years, expressed gratitude for the turnout, noting, "It’s so heartwarming to see everyone coming together to show corporations that are so big like Sobeys, that they can’t be greedy anymore, and that we are going to fight back."

Terry Armour, representing the striking workers, emphasized their readiness to return to the bargaining table if Sobeys presents a "real offer." As of now, there has been no communication from the employer since the strike announcement on Saturday. Armour affirmed the workers' commitment to genuine negotiations for fair wages, emphasizing their refusal to "just waste our time."

The rally showcased not only the determination of Pete's Frootique workers but also the broader community's support in the fight for equitable compensation."

"As the rallying cry for fair wages reverberates in Halifax, the striking workers at Pete's Frootique stand resilient, buoyed by the unwavering support of labour and community leaders. The solidarity displayed at the rally, marked by passionate speeches and symbolic gestures, underscores the collective determination to combat corporate greed and secure fair compensation.

Gary Burrill's words, affirming the right of every individual to earn enough to support themselves, resonate as a powerful testament to the workers' cause. The crowd's unified chant, decrying Sobeys' perceived greed and demanding just wages, encapsulates the shared sentiment of workers and community members alike.

Serena Gagné's acknowledgment of the heartwarming community turnout reflects the strength derived from unity, sending a clear message to corporate giants that their workers will not back down until fairness prevails. Terry Armour's assertion that the workers are ready to negotiate for genuine and fair wages adds a note of determination, emphasizing their refusal to accept mere token offers.

As Pete's Frootique workers hold their ground, the resounding support expressed during the rally paints a picture of a community standing in solidarity against inequity. The path ahead may be challenging, but the collective resolve signals a tenacious pursuit of justice and fair treatment in the workplace."

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