As the privatization of liquor sales marches forward in Saskatchewan, 170 SLGA employees are being left behind and out of jobs.
The workers are those at stores slated for closure. Many locations won’t be closing for several months as private outlets are set up, but layoff notices were sent out in July.
Donna Christianson, the chair of the negotiation committee with SLGA for the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union, called the situation sad.
Christianson’s job is one of those on the chopping block.
“It’s not good, not fun,” she said.
Christianson agreed this was a worst-case scenario come true, as the union warned of layoffs when the privatization idea was first floated.
Some employees will have the opportunity to move to vacant positions in different stores, while others can take a severance package.
Christianson said there are people who have already taken severance because they don’t want to uproot their families. She added, for those losing their jobs, there aren’t many other options.
“Let’s just be honest here, there isn’t a lot of jobs in rural Saskatchewan,” she said. “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; however, Christianson said she’s seeing more existing retail outlets taking on the licence, which means no new jobs.
“This is not easy 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.
He said these layoffs are standard, adding “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. Affected employees will have at least a month’s notice once those dates are known, according to Engel.
Engel couldn’t say how much the transition was going to cost.