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Grocery store workers need to be properly compensated says union president

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 7:21 am MDT

A woman walks through a grocery store aisle. (CREDIT: jeremy Smith, Pixabay)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Grocery store employees are working around the clock to meet growing demands while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Now, the union representing grocery store workers in Alberta is calling on the provincial government to compensate employees as they are on the front lines.

President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401 Thomas Hesse says he’s been contacted by employees every day who are worried about going to work because of COVID-19.

“I spoke with a meat-cutter who was scared to come to work because he had asthma but yet he was the only income earner.”

Most restaurants and fast-food businesses have closed or limited hours and service to prevent the spread of the virus forcing more traffic into grocery stores.

Hesse says strict cleaning and distancing measures are in place but the government needs to do more.

“The government hasn’t dealt with workers compensation claims appropriately and ensured that if people are showing symptoms, they’re automatically covered under WCB.”

He adds employees should be paid more than minimum wage as they are at risk of contracting the virus.

“Some of these workers are making minimum wage. If you’re going to provide food to the tables of Albertans and provide a basic human right, that work ought to be compensated fairly as well.”

Last week, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced $50 million in financial aid for those who are self-isolating, a payment of $573 per week for a total of two weeks.

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Those payments are meant to bridge the cap until money from the federal government’s financial aid package is available.