UNIQLO employees at the Toronto Eaton Centre are eager to form a union after filing an application this week with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The OLRB will oversee a vote in the workplace on Tues., Aug. 22, 2017.
UNIQLO opened its first Canadian location in Sept. 2016 to much fanfare. But the workers at their flagship Eaton Centre store complain of stressful and unfair working conditions that have resulted in extremely high turnover.
There are presently 169 employees at the 27,400-square-foot UNIQLO store in the Toronto Eaton Centre. Workers say the store has struggled to retain employees due to exhausting hours and scheduling requirements.
"UNIQLO workers have decided to form a union in order to improve their working conditions," says Jas Randhawa, organizer with Workers United Canada Council. "The workers want fair shifts and breaks, they want labor laws to be followed, and they want respect from their management."
"Employers and society as a whole should respect the labour of retail workers," says Chi Cheng Wat, a worker and union advocate at the Toronto Eaton Centre UNIQLO. "It's hard work. We work long hours doing physically and emotionally draining tasks. One second we are getting yelled at by our manager for not working fast enough and then the next second we have to smile and service customers. But we as retail workers have to respect ourselves first. That's why we've decided to form a union."
UNIQLO currently has two locations in Toronto and will be opening its third Canadian location in Burnaby, British Columbia this fall. UNIQLO's parent company Fast Retailing Co. is currently prioritizing growth in new global markets, with Canada as an important focus, due to slower growth at home.