The BCGEU Pauses Strike, But What Does This Mean for Liquor Distribution?

After launching a strike on August 15, the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) has announced that they will be pausing the job action as bargaining discussions have resumed. The BCGEU represents around 33,000 public-service workers across British Columbia, including BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) workers. In hopes of negotiating higher wages and inflation protection for new wages without affecting an essential service, LDB workers have been on strike for the past two weeks. Subsequently, the supply chain from distribution centres to liquor stores has been directly affected, resulting in many empty shelves in liquor stores across the province.

To slow down the sales of the remaining products, the government put a purchase limit into place which stated that customers, restaurants, pubs and bars could only purchase three of one individual item per day. This rule applied to all products except for beer. 

The BC’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees surveyed 400 bars, nightclubs, restaurants, wineries, private liquor stores, pubs, and craft brewers, and learned that between liquor availability and purchase limits, many businesses have been struggling financially. More specifically, one in five business owners have lost around $20,000 in profit. This has resulted in businesses having to reduce their hours, lay off workers and consider closing their doors. 

Needless to say, everyone in the industry is relieved that the strike has been halted, especially with the Labour Day long weekend fast-approaching. However, the system will not recover immediately. Ian Tostenson of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association predicts that it will take about three to four weeks for the supply chain to be restored. In the meantime, this is an opportunity to support local wineries, breweries and distilleries. Many small and local liquor businesses are not large enough to distribute through the LDB, meaning you can order directly from them online or visit them in person to avoid availability issues.