Some major grocery store chains and other businesses have cancelled a $2 an hour pandemic wage bonus for employees.
Loblaw Companies Inc., Metro Inc. and Empire Company Ltd., which owns Sobeys and Safeway stores, provided their employees with a $2 an hour increase early in the COVID-19 pandemic. That bonus has now been cut. Many employees are back at or near the minimum wage. In Ontario, that’s $14 per hour.
Workers who were considered heroes by the public are not pleased with the wage cut.
“I personally think that the $2 getting taken away from us is disappointing,” said Jacob Cairns, a recent high school graduate working at a local grocery store. “We all showed up to work in a workplace that has restrictions on social distancing and wearing masks due to a global pandemic, but it’s not enough. We deserve a bonus for working through the mental and physical distresses of COVID-19.”
“I was surprised that we were even given the raise,” said Shane Ryan, a Starbucks employee who also saw his wage cut. “It sucks knowing that we are putting ourselves at risk to serve people. I feel like companies should be willing to take this hit.”
Not everyone feels the reduction has negatively impacted them.
“I don’t feel like the $2 bonus being stopped is bad,” said Cierra Wilson, a student at Algonquin College.
“Employee hours have been cut . . . and people believe they deserve more than they do. People might believe they are that they are entitled to that extra $2 because they think they stepped up during the pandemic, but stepping up is a basic courtesy.”
Many employees have also received money paid in a one-time bonus. Metro employees, for example, have been given $100 if they are part-time and $200 if they are a full-time employee, according to a statement by the company that can be found here.
Unions representing grocery and commercial workers have expressed displeasure with the move to cut pandemic pay.
“The pandemic is not over. The danger has not passed. These workers are no less at risk and are no less essential today than they were yesterday. There is no justification for ending pandemic pay now, or ever,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a news release.