MONTREAL -- Negotiations between the Jean Coutu Group and the union representing the 680 workers at the Varennes distribution centre have reached an impasse.

The employer began a lockout there three weeks ago, the day after a 24-hour strike called by the union on Sept. 23.

The two sides are accusing each other of being responsible for the stalemate in negotiations.

The employer claims the union has filed outrageous demands, such as adding seventh and eighth weeks of annual vacation, in addition to demands for wage increases of around 25 per cent over four years for all warehouse workers, when these workers already earn $4 to $8 an hour more than their competitors. 

The warehouse workers union, attached to the Fédération du commerce and affiliated with the CSN, are in turn accusing the employer of having left the negotiating table without making a counter-proposal and of having caused the impasse. 

The union maintains that it developed its demands by comparing the working conditions with those at the Metro distribution centre, of which Jean Coutu is a subsidiary.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.