Grocery store execs shared emails about cutting pandemic pay, but deny collusion
Owners of Canada’s three largest grocery stores deny any kind of “collusion” in cutting pandemic pay for workers, even though all three cancelled the $2 per hour top-up together on the same day.
Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith presented a motion at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry to call grocery store executives to face questions about why they all cut the pandemic pay on the same day.
In early June, Loblaw Companies Ltd, Metro Inc and Empire Co. Ltd sent a letter to their employees saying the $2 pandemic pay, which was introduced in March to acknowledge the risk essential workers were taking on during the pandemic, was ending.
The executives said their decision to cut the pandemic pay was because the economy is slowly opening up, and things are steadily returning to normal.
However, emails were exchanged between the three companies indicating each other’s plans.
On June 11, Sarah Davis, Loblaw president, sent an email to Metro, Empire, Walmart and others informing them that they would be cutting pay two days later.
As essential workers continued to work in risky conditions at the height of the pandemic and lockdown, grocery stores and their executive leaders became richer from the safety of their homes. For example, Galen Weston, owner of Loblaw Cos and also the third-richest person in Canada, saw an 11% bump in his wealth during the pandemic.