Booze purchase limits to remain in effect in B.C.

Restaurant owners told to expect another month of strained booze supply

Many liquor store shelves have been empty for more than a week | Glen Korstrom

The British Columbia General Employees Union (BCGEU) has stopped picketing alcohol warehouses but that does not mean that empty liquor store shelves will be restocked soon.

Purchase limits are set to continue and restaurant owners' orders could take weeks to be filled, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson told BIV

"We have been informed that in an effort to get shipments moving again limits on purchase maximums will remain in place until next week," Tostenson said this morning in a letter to his association's members. 

The British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) put in place restrictions on how much customers could purchase at any one time. 

People could buy three of each product, except for beer.

He estimated that for every week of labour disruption, it will take two weeks to smooth out distribution. BCGEU members stopped the flow of alcohol for 15 days.

BCLDB workers are set to ship out orders today, starting with orders that were already packaged in the warehouses. Prioritized orders will be those received by email and phone before 3:30 p.m. on August 15, as well as orders placed in the online store before 3 p.m. on August 17.

"To ensure we can get product to customers as soon as possible, we may need to deliver outside of normal delivery windows," the BCLDB said in an email to industry partners.

BCGEU workers on August 15 started picketing BCLDB warehouses in Richmond, Delta, Kamloops and Victoria, thereby disrupting the flow of alcohol from distillers and wineries based outside the province to government-run and private stores.

Much beer distribution was not disrupted because larger brewers’ products are warehoused separately. 

The BCGEU yesterday ended its job action.

“Following a return to the bargaining table, the BCGEU’s public service bargaining committee has stood down job action at BC Public Service worksites as a sign of good faith,” the union said in a statement yesterday morning.

"The committee returned to the bargaining table with the BC Public Service Agency last Thursday and has made significant progress. The two sides will continue to meet throughout the week, hoping to finalize a tentative agreement."