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August 31, 2022

B.C. liquor stores and restaurants are struggling with the impacts of a major union’s ongoing job action, leading to bare shelves and possible menu changes for some.

Fets Whisky Kitchen on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive says liquor sale limits resulting from the B.C. General Employees’ Union’s job action may soon prohibit them from making some drinks on their menu.

“If we have to go through another weekend of this, we’re not going to be able to serve margaritas, the bulk of our cocktail program will be done,” Eric Fergie, co-owner of Fets Whisky Kitchen told CTV News Vancouver.

The BCGEU, which is the province’s largest public-sector union, issued its 72-hour strike notice on Aug. 12. With overtime bans and picketing at multiple BC Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centres, the province imposed limits on liquor sales to customers at its stores.

No more than three of any individual item may be purchased per customer, per day, at BC Liquor Stores. Beer purchases are exempt.

“We have to go to the liquor store every day if we want to serve, let’s say, prosecco. We can only get three bottles a day,” Allura Fergie, co-owner of Fets Whisky Kitchen said.

The B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees says it surveyed its members and found the industry isn’t optimistic. About 80 per cent of bars, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs say they’re anxious about their establishments.

“We are actually worried. This is serious, right? We’ve been saying that for a while but it takes a while for people to notice the consequences of it,” said Jeff Guignard with ABLE BC.

Guignard says even once the strike ends, it’ll take some time to fill liquor orders.

“We are going to have 670 private liquor stores, 200 government stores, 8,000 licensed locations all ordering at the same time. So this is going to be weeks and weeks and weeks,” he said.

“I say for every week that this strike goes on, it’s going to be another two to three weeks for industry to recover.”

Contract talks resumed between the B.C. government and the union last week. 

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