A Message from Executive Director Jeff Guignard About the BCGEU Strike
This Monday, British Columbia’s entire $15 billion liquor and cannabis industries were thrown into disarray when the British Columbia BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) commenced strike action outside of four critical Liquor Distribution Branch warehouses.
Like you, we believe this situation is both unfair and irresponsible. This dispute is between the BCGEU and government; it has nothing to do with you, your business, or our industry.
These warehouses supply about 40 per cent of all alcohol in BC and are the only source for imported alcohol products and “ready-to-drink” beverages such as Hey Y’all, NÜTRL, Nude, Gin Smash, and other canned spirit-based beverages. They are also the only source of legal regulated cannabis for most of BC’s cannabis retailers.
While you may still source products from Brewers Distributed Ltd (BDL) and BC’s craft producers (see the list below), some of you are already reporting stock-outs on popular items. We know some of you are also contemplating layoffs as early as next week.
Since Monday, I have been blunt in media—and in conversations with both government and the BCGEU—that this strike is having an immediate, devastating impact on your businesses. We are encouraging both sides to return to the negotiation table immediately to avoid any further damage to our industry. Prolonging this strike even another week risks serious damage to an industry still recovering from losses incurred during the pandemic.
We continue to meet with government every day to seek answers to your questions (see our FAQ below), press for logical policy changes that will protect the integrity of our supply chain, and to offer real-time feedback on the damage this strike is causing to your businesses and our industry. We will continue to provide regular updates until this strike is resolved.
In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how this strike is impacting your business.
BCGEU Strike FAQs
Can I still place an order while the strike continues?
As of 3:30 pm on August 17, the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) Wholesale has shut down webstore and will not be accepting new orders until after the strike ends. All pending orders placed before strike action began including orders placed before webstore was shut down) will be assembled and shipped when the strike ends and LDB distribution operations resume. We will have further details on how these orders will be prioritized when the strike ends.
Click here to see an update from LDB Wholesale.
Can LDB warehouse workers be deemed an essential service so we can receive our orders?
During the pandemic, government used extraordinary emergency powers and the COVID-19 Related Measures Act to declare a long list of essential services, including private liquor stores and liquor distribution. Those orders, and that legislation, have since expired.
To declare liquor distribution an essential service now would require either new legislation or a ruling from the Labour Relations Board, which can designate services as essential (and/or set minimum staffing levels) in response to a labour dispute.
Given that the strike has only been one day so far, both of these options are unlikely at this time. If the strike continues for an extended time and causes quantifiable economic damage, this will become a more likely option.
We will continue discussing this option with government.
Can Brewers Distributed Ltd (BDL) deliver Ready-to-Drink (RTD) products? Can a local RTD producer direct deliver their own RTD products?
No. As you are aware, the only option for ordering RTD products is through the LDB, meaning there is no possibility of re-stocking these high-demand products until the strike ends.
RTDs will not be delivered through BDL or direct delivery at this time. Helping you restock RTDs is one of our highest priorities and we are asking for special permission to allow other delivery options.
Can a Licensee Retail Store (LRS) purchase from a BC Liquor Store?
No. The LRS Terms and Conditions states: “You may only purchase liquor as a licensee for the purpose of selling and/or serving it under your licence. You must purchase your liquor directly from the Liquor Distribution Branch warehouse, from a designated Liquor Distribution Branch store, or another source authorized in writing by the general manager of the Liquor Distribution Branch.” The key part being the BC Liquor Store would have to be “designated,” which is the exception not the rule.
Given that BC Liquor Stores have also had their supply from LDB Wholesale cut off, you should not expect government to permit LRSs to purchase from government stores at this time.
Will the strike force government to allow licensee-to-licensee sales?
We are in talks with government every day and exploring every possible contingency plan. However, government recently declined to move forward with licensee-to-licencee sales, so it is unlikely this will change now.
Additionally, private liquor stores will start to see depleted inventory levels by the end of this week. If licensee-to-licensee sales are allowed, there will be extremely limited inventory available for Liquor Primaries (LP) and Food Primaries (FP) to purchase.
Will industry be compensated for loss of business due to strike action?
Government is not currently considering compensation for affected businesses. Before we can seek compensation, we will need to gather evidence that the strike has caused financial harm to your business. As the strike continues, please email email@example.com to let us know the financial impact of the strike on your businesses.
Did government stores have advance notice of the strike?
Despite rumours, we’ve seen no evidence that BC Liquor Stores were given advance notice to stock up on products. Like the private industry, government stores were aware of the possibility of a strike and in some cases chose to stock up on inventory.
However, if you have evidence of this happening, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can we pick up our own order from an LDB warehouse?
No, licensees will not be permitted to pick up their own orders. With the Distribution Centres closed, there are no workers to pick and assemble orders and licensees do not have proper safety training or equipment to pick products from distribution centre shelves.
Can Containerworld deliver import products currently in their warehouses?
Containerworld is able to deliver imported beer directly, but they are not able to deliver imported wine or spirits at this time. We will continue to explore this as a possible option and will provide updates as we are able.
Can we get shipments from Alberta?
Government has no plans to pull product or distribution services from Alberta at this time.
Will the order I placed, but that wasn't shipped before 3:30 pm on August 15, be assembled and shipped when the strike is over?
Yes, all orders currently in the system will be assembled and shipped as soon as the strike ends and the distribution centres come back online. LDB Wholesale is no longer accepting new orders and has temporarily shut down webstore.
How will LDB prioritize fulfilling orders placed during the strike?
We will have more details on this after the strike ends.
Stock Out Signage
As the BCGEU strike continues, many of our members are starting to see product stock outs. These stock outs are going to get worse and we expect to see bare shelves by the weekend.
To help manage customer expectations, we have created signage for your front door and shelves that explain your stock outs.
Click here for a free pdf download of front door signage, and here for a free pdf download of shelf talkers.
You can find these signs and more available for free in our online store.
While the BCGEU strike is preventing delivery of import products from the LDB, local BC producers are ready to accept and fulfill your orders. We encourage you to explore alternative products produced locally and delivered direct.
BC Craft Brewers Guild
BC Craft Distilleries Guild
New Wave Wine Society (representing cideries, fruit, and mead wine)
Wine Growers BC
BC Cider Way