Sector Still Reeling from Global Pandemic Now at the Mercy of Labour Dispute
VANCOUVER, BC (August 24, 2022) — Today, an unprecedented alliance of 19 industry associations and stakeholder groups representing the province’s hospitality, liquor, tourism, accommodation, and cannabis retail businesses sent an open letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan, and the B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU), urging a swift resolution when the two parties return to the bargaining table.
On Aug. 15, the BCGEU commenced job action outside four key Liquor Distribution Branch warehouses, which together supply about 40 per cent of all alcohol in B.C. and are the only source for imported alcohol products and “ready-to-drink” beverages. The warehouses are also the only source of legal regulated cannabis for most of B.C.’s cannabis retailers.
Though intended to motivate the provincial government, the BCGEU’s job action strikes yet another crushing blow to the hospitality and tourism sector, which is only beginning to recover after the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This labour dispute has nothing to do with our sector; we’re collateral damage in this job action,” said Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC). “We support workers’ rights, but no one has the right to cause this much disruption and damage to industries not involved in negotiations.”
While picket lines are up outside the LDB warehouses, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, event venues, hotels and retailers cannot pick up orders already placed and cannot place new liquor or cannabis orders. Provincial regulations do not permit direct delivery of many liquor and cannabis products to licensees and retailers, nor are they allowed to buy products themselves from BC Liquor stores or from other retailers.
Cut off from inventory, many establishments, venues and retailers have already begun to experience product shortages and impacts on revenue — some are contemplating layoffs as early as next week.
“Before the pandemic, B.C.’s hospitality and tourism sector was growing faster than the provincial economy as a whole, but we’ve suffered an inequitable share of pandemic-related setbacks over the past few years,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA). “Now once again, our industries will unfairly bear the brunt of serious economic consequences including business closures and layoffs, cancelled events such as concerts and weddings, loss of consumer confidence, and damage to B.C.’s reputation among tourists and consumers.”
Read the open letter from industry associations and stakeholder groups on the BCRFA website here or the ABLE BC website here.
Download the open letter and fact sheet in PDF via Google Drive here.
British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association 604-986-1429
The Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC)
Ken Beattie for Craft Beer Inquiries
BC Craft Brewers Guild