170 SLGA workers given layoff notice due to privatization

By Lisa Schick/CJME News Staff
August 18, 2016 - 2:50pm

As the privatization of liquor sales marches forward in Saskatchewan 170 SLGA employees are being left behind, losing their jobs.

The workers are those at stores which are slated for closure. Many stores won't be closing for several months as the private outlets are set up, but the layoff notices were sent out in July.

Donna Christianson calls it sad. She's the chair of the negotiation committee with SLGA for SGEU, the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union. But she's also losing her job, as her home position is at a store slated for closure.

"It's not good, not fun."

The union warned of layoffs when the privatization idea was first floated, and Christianson agreed this is a worst-case scenario come true.

Some employees will have the opportunity to move to vacant positions in different stores, while others will take the severance package.

Christianson said there are people who have already taken the severance because they don't want to uproot their families.

She also said for those losing their jobs, there aren't a lot of other options.

"Let's just be honest here, there isn't a lot of jobs in rural Saskatchewan ... there's nothing to replace that job, there is no job in some of these communities."

Some new stores will come to these communities, replacing the SLGA ones, but Christianson said she's seeing more existing retail outlets taking on the license, which means no new jobs.

"This is not easy for, certainly for the 170 employees or their families, we all understand this is a difficult time for them," said Jim Engel, vice-president of corporate services and gaming operations with the SLGA.

Engel said the SLGA has tried to be as accommodating as possible and come up with solutions for as many employees as they can.

However, he said these layoffs are a standard thing, "we knew it was going to happen as part of the process."

The new liquor licenses are currently in the middle of the request for proposal stage, and until that is over there will be no dates for the SLGA stores' closures. The employees will have at least a month notice once those dates are known, according to Engel.

Engel couldn't say how much the change-over was going to cost. 


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