The union representing workers at the Courtenay Safeway store is asking Sobeys senior management for a meeting to discuss reasons for the May store closure, as well as provide answers and an adjustment plan for employees.
Andy Newfeld, communications director for UFCW 1518, explained the union hopes to get more information from the company, which recently announced its plans to close the store May 10.
“They’re claiming financial viability, but we would like them to justify that position,” said Newfeld. “Our first objective is to sit down with the company and get some information. We would really like them to keep the store open or sell it to someone.”
Last October, Sobeys Inc., which owns Thrifty Foods along with Safeway, IGA, Price Chopper and Foodland, reported its plan to purchase Canada Safeway.
As one of the longest-operating stores in the Comox Valley, Safeway is the only Sobeys-owned store on Vancouver Island that is closing following a purchase and sale agreement between Overwaitea Food Group and Federated Co-operative Limited.
In the transition, Sobeys will sell 22 of the 23 stores it is required to sell as part of its consent agreement with the Competition Bureau.
The Courtenay store has 50 full-time and 70 part-time employees.
UFCW 1518 President Ivan Limpright wrote a letter to the company asking for further discussion for options to keep their members employed beyond the boundaries of the collective agreement.
“We also look forward to receiving details of the steps taken to try to sell the store, since you have been involved in discussions to divest a number of stores,” Limpright wrote. “Undoubtedly you share our view that Safeway/Sobeys has a moral, in addition to a legal, obligation to provide the information and to have meaningful discussions to reach an agreement on a robust adjustment plan to reduce or eliminate job loss.”
Despite the imminent loss of the anchor store, the owner of Your Dollar Store With More in the Cliffe Avenue plaza said she hopes her business will continue to grow.
“I know it’s going to hurt, and it has a big effect on (all the businesses), but I’ve got faith things are going to turn around,” explained Diane (who asked that her last name not be used).
She added she did not have any indication Safeway would be closing, but noted she hopes her reputation of serving customers for more than 11 years will help in keeping her business going.