Local products help Okanagan pot shop chain get back on feet despite union woes

Kelowna, come get your kush.

A popular chain of cannabis retailers is going back to full-time staff and hours, just over two weeks after having to greatly scale down operations due to failed talks to pen a new contract for the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU).

Liquor and pot shops across the province were hit hard on Aug. 15 when the largest union in B.C. hit the picket line, causing major shortages in product distribution centres.

Flora Cannabis, with shops in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Vernon and Prince George, was one of the businesses that was forced to cut hours without being able to accept orders from wholesale customers.

READ MORE: BCGEU stands down strike action amid ongoing contract negotiations as ‘sign of good faith’

The same day as the strike was announced, however, BC Cannabis Wholesale did announce a new direct delivery program that has allowed Flora to source a broader variety of local products – getting employees back to work.

“We let our staff know today (Aug. 31) that they are going back to work and we are expecting many smiling budtenders in stores on Thursday (Sept. 1), said Flora’s People and Culture Manager Tania Robinson.

“Getting our people back to work was our number one priority since layoffs were announced last Thursday and we are so thankful that these layoffs were short-lived.”

Flora will be returning to full-time hours.

The direct delivery program has allowed Flora, and other cannabis retails in the province, to circumvent the central distribution centres of the Liquor Distribution Board.

Operations Manager Cassandra Wardrop said Flora has been excited for this system “for a very long time.

“We have been cultivating relationships with local micro-cultivators and processors over the past year in anticipation of this program and it couldn’t have come together at a better time.”

The BCGEU strike was put on halt on Aug. 30 to resume talks and work on a contract, though it still remains unclear when warehouse cannabis distribution will resume.

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