Grocers exploit the ugliness of capitalism.

Nova Scotia-based Empire Company is better known to Canadians as grocery stores under the Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and FreshCo labels. You might have missed the business news the other day about the company’s highly profitable fourth quarter and past year. Not many companies in the food business get to announce a 43 per cent increase in net earnings in just one year.

We also hear that Sobeys and the rest are now cutting the pandemic increase that many grocery store employees have been earning since the pandemic hit Canada in March. It has kept them competitive with each other in the business by adding $80 to $100 per week to employees pay for the past three months.

Now that the crunch (or at least the first wave of the novel coronavirus) is on the wane, even companies such as Loblaws—which includes Zehrs and No Frills, are eliminating the bonus. It was really nice that Galen Weston, of the third richest family in Canada, made the announcement to the companies customers who use its ‘Optimum’ loyalty program.

When asked by the media why the company would not continue the improved salary program, the Weston heir, worth about $13 billion, responded that he is a strong believer in a progressive minimum wage and “would support any government-led effort to establish a living wage.”

While there is an assumption that Loblaws-owned stores are among the most expensive stores for Canadians to shop for their groceries, there has been a constant increase in food prices across all grocery stores this year. Any house holder who pays attention to the weekly flyers and in-store prices can attest to that. And any large chain that wants to argue that can check with their own comparison shoppers to verify it.

To cut back now on their employees’ salaries shows their greed.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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