2020-10-17 | Varennes Distribution Centre: The Jean Coutu Group is determined to find a quick resolution to the labour dispute

Varennes Distribution Centre: The Jean Coutu Group is determined to find a quick resolution to the labour dispute

October 17, 2020

The Jean Coutu Group, which is proud to offer good jobs here in Quebec, is determined to find a quick resolution to the current labour dispute.

We have already accepted a significant number of union demands in the current negotiations and are ready to continue to offer good wages to our employees, but we will not accept unreasonable and excessive monetary demands.

The union demands increases of more than 25% for employees who are already the highest paid in the pharmacy industry with an average hourly wage of $27 plus bonuses, premiums, employer-paid benefits and much more.

The Jean Coutu Group condemns the union's behaviour when it alleges the existence of supply issues, including for medication. There is no shortage of medication. Alleging the contrary and trying to alarm the population is irresponsible.

We also denounce and condemn the acts of vandalism committed against our pharmacist-owners who, with their teams, have been actively contributing to maintaining services to the population since the beginning of the conflict.

The facts:

1-  The Jean Coutu Group sent the notice to bargain in order to begin discussions with the union in October 2019;

2-  Realizing the significant gap between the parties, the Jean Coutu Group requested the appointment of a conciliator by the Quebec Ministry of Labour early in the process to support the parties in bargaining in order to avoid a labour dispute;

3-  The Jean Coutu Group presented a global offer on all non-monetary aspects of the collective agreement to the union on July 16, 2020;
4-  The union presented this proposal to its members on October 2, 2020, more than two months later;

5-  All summer long, unionized employees exercised illegal pressure tactics;

6-  Finally, on September 23rd, the union called a 24-hour strike.

Pressure tactics can unfortunately have serious consequences for clients who need to get the medications they need, whether or not there is a pandemic. In light of this situation, the most responsible decision to protect the pharmacy network during a pandemic and ensure predictability in the supply of medications was to not allow employees to return to work until an agreement was reached between the parties.

The company's contingency plan has been in place since September 24 and prioritizes the continuous supply of prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and consumer goods to the PJC pharmacy network.

We are committed to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement that takes into account the needs of our employees, as well as those of pharmacist-owners and customers, while ensuring that The Jean Coutu Group remains efficient in an increasingly competitive market.