Strike at Molson Coors | Bar owners fear beer shortages

(Montreal) Bar owners could soon run out of beer due to the strike called by workers at the Molson Coors plant in Longueuil in late March, the president of the Corporation des Propriétaires de Bars, Brasseries et Tavernes du Quebec has warned.

Posted at 4:31 p.m
Updated at 6:02 p.m

Christopher Reynolds
The Canadian Press

In a telephone interview on Friday, Renaud Poulin said he has received hundreds of calls this week from bar owners who fear they will run out of beer next week, particularly those in rural areas of the province who have an exclusive deal with Molson Coors.

” You think […] They will have to close their shop. That’s the big concern,” he said.

Other Quebec beer producers will likely prefer shipments to Montreal and Quebec City, where bars are concentrated, rather than shipping cases to remote areas. “It’s a question of economics for the brewers,” continued Mr. Poulin.

In a letter Thursday to Business Secretary Pierre Fitzgibbon, the company is calling on the provincial government to ease restrictions on beer sales and allow its members to buy bottles from other retail outlets to resell at their facilities.

According to provincial regulations, bars and restaurants are only allowed to sell bottles specifically labeled for on-site consumption, as opposed to those for home use sold in convenience stores and grocery stores.

Owners are now looking to out-of-province cases to fill the void left by Molson products, but a limited supply of bottled beer labeled for local consumption means many bars are facing shortages .

On March 25, 420 workers at Molson Coors’ new Longueuil brewery went on strike.

Molson Coors spokesman Frederic Bourgeois-LeBlanc said an emergency plan to ship the products to customers is underway and the company is in direct communication with the bar owners association.

“As always, our door is always open for negotiations with Teamsters representatives. It is important to mention that without consulting our best offer, they decided to go on strike on March 25th. We remain very disappointed,” he said in an email.

Teamsters Canada spokesman Stephane Lacroix said the union had not heard from Molson and any movement toward a resolution had stalled.

“No negotiations, no contact. Nothing at all. Management got caught using scabs a couple of weeks ago so I guess they’re not too happy with the way things are going,” he said in an email.

Mr Poulin, owner of a sports bar in Châteauguay, pointed out that he had personally experienced the problem as his clientele were less satisfied.

“Customers consume less. You stay shorter. They’re not happy,” said Mr Poulin, who has run Bar La Chope for 32 years.

“Molson’s customers have all gone to Labatt,” he adds, but even in Quebec, the rival brewery is running low on supplies because of the Molson Coors strike.

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