Food chains across Canada are adapting to rising demand in their stores during the new coronavirus pandemic by raising wages for workers and installing plexiglass.
Loblaws temporarily increases wages by around 15%, while Metro increases wages by $ 2 an hour.
In a statement, Loblaws CEO Galen Weston said: “We have made the decision to temporarily increase the fees for colleagues in our stores and distribution centers by approximately 15% retroactive to March 8 in recognition of their exceptional and ongoing efforts to keep our stores open and operating so effectively. “
He said grocery store supermarkets and pharmacies are “doing well” and that this is a way of “making sure that a significant portion of that benefit will go directly into their workers’ pockets.”
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Likewise, Metro – which runs around 950 stores, including Food Basics – said in a statement that its employees in stores and distribution centers will receive an additional $ 2 an hour from March 8 to May 2.
“They work in a particularly difficult situation and have worked very long to serve our customers,” Metro said in a statement to Global News.
“In this context, an additional $ 2 / hour will be paid to these employees for the period of March 8 through May 2.”
Canadian unions representing more than 41,000 food retail workers praised the decision and invited more employers to do the same.
“It is encouraging to see another major retailer recognize the important work done by these frontline retailers to keep people fueled by this crisis,” said Shawn Haggerty, president of UCFCW Local 175.
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Loblaws has also started installing plexiglass shields at checkout counters and is looking to acquire multiple personal protective equipment for its employees.
“We continue to work around the clock to ensure medical grade masks, hand sanitizer and gloves for store colleagues in the face of a global shortage of all three,” Weston wrote in another statement this week.
Metro is installing plexiglass protections on the front and on the service counters in all its stores.
“The work is expected to be completed in the coming days,” said the company.
“We will also implement other measures to strengthen social distance in the coming days, including limiting the number of customers in our stores if necessary.”
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Sobeys is also installing plexiglass shields at the checkout counters.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Friday, Sobeys CEO Michael Medline said the chain is installing them “as quickly as possible”.
Sobeys workers also wash their hands every 15 minutes and install markers on the floor at the payment lines, to make sure each customer is two meters away from another on the line.
To make shopping safer for more vulnerable people, Sobeys spent the first hour of his day working with the elderly.
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Loblaws also announced a similar move.
“We are prepared for this and to support those most in need, we are opening some of our stores in advance with dedicated hours for the elderly and people with disabilities who will be in front of the crowd,” said Galen Weston, executive president of Loblaw Companies Limited a letter to PC Optimum members on Wednesday.
In addition to Zehrs, Loblaws also controls stores that operate under various banners, including No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Fortinos, Valumart, Freshmart and Provigo, among others.
– With files from Global News reporter Kevin Nielsen
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