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BC’s Liquor distribution shutdown will start to heavily impact businesses by next week: Alliance of Beverage Licensees

(With files by Will

“This is quite serious, and it is time for this to end.”

The BC General Employees’ Union strike has started to cause collateral damage.

Liquor distribution warehouses across the province have walked out, halting all distribution of imported and ready to drink alcohol.

Stores across the province are now limiting all customers, including restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs, to three of any individual item per purchase, beer being the only exception.

The warehouses that are shut down supply the province with 40% of its liquor supply, according to the Alliance of Beverage Licensees Executive Director Jeff Guignard.

“We are being squeezed” He said. “There are certain products we can only get through those distribution centers that are being closed by the BCGEU.”

He says this includes “ready to drink refreshment beverages,” like coolers and canned cocktails, as well as any imported products, from California wine to many spirits like Stoli vodka and Bombay gin.

“The entire 15-billion dollar liquor industry, which has thousands of small businesses and 200-thousand employees, are caught up in their dispute which has nothing to do with us” Guignard said.

He adds these businesses have been through enough – citing two years of pandemic restrictions, layoffs, and lost profits, straight into a labour shortage, and now this.

“We are going to start to see, over the course of the weekend, some popular products’ inventories look depleted, and by next week you will see absolute shortages and stock-outs in those popular imported products and ready to drink beverages that our customers love.”

The strike is only four days old, it started on Monday. So far, there has not been any negotiations – that the public is aware of – that have taken place in that time.

If the strike continues deep into the fall, Guignard said “there is no plan,” and the effects will be devastating.

“You are going to start to see stores close and lay off their staff.”

Liquor is not the only industry impacted by the warehouse strikes, he says cannabis has it even worse, and to expect stock-outs next week in those stores as well.

“They have no other place to buy except for those warehouses that are shut down.”

Guignard says it is “unacceptable” for the strike to involve the entire industry and potentially damage the economy in such a big way, adding that this is not about who is right and who is wrong in the strike.

“Hopefully the adults in the room can get both sides back to the table and negotiate a fair deal.”

Beers across the board are unaffected by the warehouse shutdowns and will still be available, as are locally and provincially made wines and beers.

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