Ecommerce stores warehouse

Toronto HBC warehouse workers leave work

More than 300 workers at The Bay’s e-commerce warehouse in Scarborough are on strike.

HBC Logistics employees, who process online orders from across Canada, have been without a contract for more than a year.

The workers walked out on Wednesday, June 22 after the failure of the last round of negotiations. Due to the pandemic, contract negotiations have been delayed.

According to the workers’ union, Unifor, one of the main points of contention is that the employer “refused to offer any retroactive increases for the period they continued to work without a contract during COVID-19”.

The union said the more than 330 employees affected, most of whom are newcomers, have taken on increased workloads during the pandemic as in-person retail shopping has dropped significantly.

“These workers stepped up to help The Bay deal with an increase in online shopping during COVID-19, even postponing negotiations when their collective agreement expired in May 2021,” said the Ontario Regional Manager, Naureen Rizvi, in a statement Wednesday.

“It now appears that Canada’s flagship retailer is cynically exploiting the goodwill of its employees to deceive workers about the pay raise they should have and received.

Unifor said HBC Logistics only offered “going forward” wage increases and “refuses to recognize the retroactive period worked since May 2021.”

They also said HBC’s warehouse had been hit by “several cases” of COVID-19 and two of its employees had died from the virus.

In a statement provided to CP24, The Bay said it was “committed to the collective bargaining process and hopes to continue its discussions in good faith.”

“We made fair, reasonable and competitive offers that included significant salary increases for associates. While we are disappointed the union has taken this action, we hope a solution can be found quickly,” the company said, adding that customers should expect “absolutely no disruption” to their orders.

The employer went on to say that it “appreciates the hard work of its associates, especially those who worked during the height of the pandemic when a salary bonus was awarded.”

HBC said it has offered “significant” pay increases that are far above what staff at its Scarborough logistics center have received in the past.

“The union’s description of the bargaining process and the time leading up to it is simply inaccurate,” the company said.