Quebec microdistilleries threatened by low sales due to SAQ labour dispute
The labour dispute between the management of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and its warehouse workers has been "catastrophic" for Quebec's microdistilleries, according to the Union québécoise des microdistilleries (UQMD).
It argues despite previous strike action by SAQ workers, microdistilleries are still being forced to pay a markup equivalent to a 52 per cent "buy local" tax on spirits sold on their sites and says urgent government action is needed.
"Our companies are at the end of their rope. We were already deprived of revenues from the mark-up for onsite sales," said Jonathan Roy, UQMD president. "We are struggling to hire new employees, acquire equipment, invest in our markets to ensure sustainability or even pay ourselves a salary."
The union insists the 52 per cent surcharge levied by the government is unjustified because the microdistilleries manage their own stores, labour and the handling of bottles.
It points out adjusting the mark-up percentage would remedy the significant decrease in sales for microdistilleries caused by the labour dispute.
"Although the government has been promising for four years to correct the situation, UQMD and its members are still waiting for concrete action," the union noted, adding it denounced these regulations six months ago.
UQMD points out the holiday season represents up to 50 per cent of spirits sales and it wants the government to implement "exceptional measures" to alleviate supply difficulties.
"This is a time when we could be benefiting from the boom in our sector. The government must put an end to this injustice if it really wishes, as it says, to preserve our industry," Roy argued. "The survival of our companies is at stake."
The union is inviting Quebecers to visit microdistilleries to purchase their spirits locally.