VANCOUVER — British Columbia's Finance Ministry says government-run liquor stores are implementing limits on alcohol sales in response to job action affecting several distribution outlets, effective immediately.
It says in a statement that no more than three of any individual item may be purchased per customer, per day, at BC Liquor Stores, although beer purchases are exempt.
A group representing private liquor stores, bars, pubs, and retail cannabis outlets says the rationing will likely result in some products being sold out as early as the weekend.
Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, says provincial officials informed his organization the restrictions will remain in place as long as pickets surround BC Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centres in Delta, Richmond, Kamloops and Victoria.
The 33,000 members of the B.C. General Employees Union launched limited job action Monday to back contract demands that include wage protection against inflation.
The ministry says the sales limits are designed "to ensure equal access to product for all customers during the BCGEU job action," and will remain in place until further notice.
Four-packs, six-packs or other similar formats will counts as one product, the ministry says.
Private liquor stores don't intend to impose similar limits on purchases, says Guignard, and he urged both sides to resume negotiations to settle the dispute.
"The only reason BC Liquor Stores are rationing quantities is because of the BCGEU strike, which is shutting down B.C.’s vital liquor distribution warehouses," Guignard says in a statement.
The strike by government workers is disrupting the entire restaurant and bar industry as it struggles to recover from the effects of the pandemic, the statement says.
“Customers are going to start to see stock-outs this weekend. So we’re frustrated,” Guignard said at a press conference.
“Today we’re asking both sides to get back to the table immediately and find a deal, because this is now impacting B.C.’s entire $15-billion liquor industry, thousands of small businesses and 200,000 workers that we employ.”
The strike is “unfair, and needs to end now," he said.
The union said that if it planned to adjust its strategy it would inform members first.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.
The Canadian Press