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Canadian Uniqlo workers seek to form union

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Uniqlo employees at the Toronto Eaton Centre flagship store are set to vote on whether to form a union and join the Workers United Canada, as they look improve conditions at the Japanese apparel retailer’s first Canadian location.

Uniqlo opened their flagship Eaton Centre store in September 2016 to much fanfare, however staff have been complaining of “stressful and unfair working conditions” that have resulted in extremely high turnover.

According to the Workers United Canada, there are currently 169 employees at the 27,400 square foot Uniqlo store in the Toronto Eaton Centre and workers state that the store has struggled to retain employees due to exhausting hours and scheduling requirements.

The store employees are schedule to vote on Tuesday, August 22 on whether to join the Workers United Canada, after more than 40 percent of them signed union cards, the first step in the process toward union certification.

"Employers and society as a whole should respect the labour of retail workers," said Chi Cheng Wat, a worker and union advocate at the Toronto Eaton Centre Uniqlo. "It's hard work. We work long hours doing physically and emotionally draining tasks. One second we are getting yelled at by our manager for not working fast enough and then the next second we have to smile and service customers. But we as retail workers have to respect ourselves first. That's why we've decided to form a union."

Jas Randhawa, organiser with Workers United Canada Council, added: "Uniqlo workers have decided to form a union in order to improve their working conditions. The workers want fair shifts and breaks, they want labour laws to be followed, and they want respect from their management.”

If the employees vote in favour of forming a union, the Workers United Canada will be able to negotiate a contract with the store management.

Uniqlo, a division of Japan’s Fast Retailing, currently has two locations in Toronto, with their third Canadian store planned to opened in Burnaby, British Columbia this autumn.

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