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Ahead of SAQ two-day strike, CEO confident agreement will be reached

Société des alcools du Québec CEO Jacques Farcy said Tuesday that negotiations are very active and that real progress is being made at the bargaining table with the employees' union. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Société des alcools du Québec CEO Jacques Farcy said Tuesday that negotiations are very active and that real progress is being made at the bargaining table with the employees' union. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
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On the eve of a two-day strike at the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the president and CEO of the state-owned company says he is confident of reaching an agreement.

"Negotiations are very active, and real progress is being made at the table, so I'm confident we'll reach an agreement," said Jacques Farcy late Tuesday afternoon, in response to questions from Liberal MNA Frédéric Beauchemin, during the parliamentary commission on the study of the SAQ's appropriations from the Ministry of Finance.

However, he added that discussions are currently focused on standards and not yet on wages.

Farcy assured us that "several objectives are shared" by both management and labour, which is "very good news for making progress in negotiations."

Nevertheless, he pointed out that "we may have different views on how to achieve these objectives."

Farcy pointed out that, in the event of a labour dispute, the SAQ's objective was to open as many branches as possible, but only managers would work on the floor.

Territorial "best representation" would be ensured, but opening hours could be limited.

The Syndicat des employés de magasins et de bureaux de la SAQ had announced strike days for Wednesday and Thursday unless significant progress was made at the negotiating table.

The main points in dispute include the addition of permanent positions, access to insurance and access to training. A letter of agreement provided for a guaranteed number of regular positions; the union is demanding that this be strengthened.

The union, which is part of the CSN-affiliated Fédération des employé(e)s des services publics, represents some 5,000 workers at the SAQ's various branches.

Québec solidaire (QS) has called on the SAQ to remove from its shelves a dozen wines allegedly produced in the occupied territories and labeled as a product of Israel.

QS MNA Haroun Bouazzi said he and his team had done some verifications on Google Maps.

"Is anyone forcing you to sell these wines?" he asked, adding that he didn't think anyone had claimed wines from the occupied territories.

"You might as a precaution remove them, given that there's no one asking for them, given that there's a genocide going on next door," he continued, emphatically, occasionally cutting off the SAQ CEO.

He was referring to the ongoing Israeli army offensive in the Gaza Strip following the Hamas massacres in Israel on Oct. 7.

Farcy said that there was a demand for these wines and that the SAQ was selling the wines customers were asking for.

He pointed out that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for labelling and that "consultations are underway."

The SAQ president said the Crown corporation would comply with the rules once they had been clarified.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 23, 2024.  

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