TORONTO-It would take the average Canadian supermarket worker 340 years to earn Loblaw CEO Galen Weston’s 2022 total compensation of $11.79 million, says Unifor.
“It is twisted that any analysis can find that billionaire grocery baron Galen Weston needs even more money when Loblaw refuses to pay many of its front-line workers a living wage and continues to deny full-time jobs.,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “I understand the pressures that come with leadership, and you cannot for a second convince me that such an increase for one of Canada’s richest people is justified.”
According to Statistics Canada, the average grocery worker in Canada earned $18.97 per hour in 2022. Working a full 35-hour week, with annual earnings of $34,525, it would take more than 340 years to earn his 2022 earnings of $11.79 million.
“It is unjust to divert more money out of the pockets of workers under the notion of needing to incentivize Weston to continue working for his own family business,” said Sharon Walsh, Unifor Retail Sector Director. “Workers in his stores can’t afford the groceries they sell anymore, yet it seems that culturally we are fine with the idea of paying one person the equivalent of generations of workers’ wages in one year, every year.”
Weston received a whopping 55% raise last year on his Loblaw earnings alone. Loblaw also doled out millions more to both CFO Richard Dufresne, whose total compensation went from $1.8 million in 2021 to more than $5.4 million last year, and COO Robert Sawyer, whose total compensation was hiked from $7.4 million in 2021 to just over $9.3 million in 2022.
Compensation increases for the other major grocers are similarly out of touch with workers’ earnings.
Metro CEO Eric La Flèche was paid $5.3 million in total compensation in 2022, up from 2021 earnings of just over five million. Empire Company, which operates Safeway, Sobey’s, FreshCo, Foodland and other grocery brands, paid its CEO Michael Medline more than $8.6 million in total compensation last year, up from just over $7.4 million the year before.
“This year, Unifor grocery workers are at the bargaining table with Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys among others. Let’s see if these companies are as generous with their frontline workers as they are to their executives. We’re putting grocery barons on notice that they cannot continue to pay poverty wages with part-time status for full-time work,” said Payne.
Unifor represents 20,000 workers in Canada’s retail sector, including in supermarkets and warehouses owned and affiliated with Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys.