Dozens gathered on Dresden Row in downtown Halifax on Sunday afternoon in solidarity with striking Pete's Frootique workers.
The strike began Saturday.
The workers at the Dresden Row location voted to join the Service Employees International Union in 2022. The union says it has been unable to negotiate a contract with Sobeys, which owns Pete's Frootique.
Pete's Frootique announced on social media Saturday that its downtown store is closing indefinitely.
The workers are seeking better pay. Union representatives at the rally told those gathered that most workers are now working for minimum wage and that the last offer made to them by the company called for a wage increase of five cents per hour.
Terry Armour, who works in the market's produce department, said the show of solidarity is important and would show Sobeys that workers are serious about their demands.
Terry Armour works in the market's produce department. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC),
Armour said he wasn't surprised when the company announced it was closing the Dresden Row location indefinitely.
"I don't think they have much choice," he said. "They can't run the place without us and we're standing out here demanding a better wage."
He said had the union accepted the last offer from Sobeys it would have meant an increase of $4.55 in his cheque based on his 91-hour pay period.
Serena Gagne, the picket captain for the striking workers, is a front-end supervisor at the store and has worked there for four years.
Serena Gagne has worked at Pete's Frootique for four years. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)
She said she was excited and happy about the number of people who attended the rally. Gagne said it was heartwarming to see the community come out in support.
"We have lots of employees who, including myself, only make $15 an hour and we all know that right now in Halifax a livable wage is $26.50," she said.
"That's just not acceptable for Pete's and Sobeys, who have offered us a five-cent raise. I believe that we're all here fighting to get a better raise than that."
Wynn Meaney used to work at the market and came to the rally to support his former colleagues. (Vernon Ramesar/CBCr?CBNC)
Wynn Meaney, a former worker at the store, said he came out to support his former colleagues because he didn't want them "to have to struggle anymore."
He said he left because of low wages and a lack of support from upper management at the store.
He said he believes the union will achieve its goals and thinks it will likely be achieved because of pressure from the public and not because of any goodwill from the company.
In a statement emailed to CBC News late Sunday evening, a spokesperson for Sobeys said the company is disappointed in the decision to strike. The company said it worked hard to reach an agreement it considers "fair and competitive."
"We are hopeful this will be resolved as quickly as possible and are ready and willing to get back to the table with the union as soon as the SEIU Local 2 leadership is ready," the email said.
The Pete's Frootique location in Bedford remains open.
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