The union representing Metro workers is rejecting the grocery chain’s request to get the Ministry of Labour involved as the strike involving almost 30 stores in the Toronto area nears a third week.

“The path forward is clear—Metro needs to come back to the table with an improved wage offer that meets the needs of frontline grocery workers,” Unifor communications representative Paul Whyte said in a statement Thursday.

The grocery chain is asking the conciliation officer, an independent third party appointed by the ministry, to help Metro and Unifor come to a resolution at the bargaining table, Metro spokeswoman Marie-Claude Bacon said in a statement Thursday.

Approximately 3,700 Metro workers have been on strike since late July at 27 stores across the Greater Toronto Area and rejected the grocery chain’s request to meet last Sunday or Monday. Unifor said Metro hasn’t indicated it is willing to improve a rejected offer.

Workers have said they struggle to afford the very food they sell, while others have been calling for the reinstatement of their pandemic-era “hero pay” of an additional $2 an hour.

Unifor pointed to Metro’s “enormous profits,” which recently skyrocketed 26 per cent to $346.7 million, as proof higher wages are possible.

“We know that the employer can afford to come to the table with an improved wage offer that addresses the significant affordability challenges facing frontline grocery workers,” Whyte said.

The tentative agreement reached in late July included paid sick days for part-time workers, improvements in benefits and pensions, and significant wage increases, Bacon said, with full-time and senior part-time employees getting $3.75 more per hour by July 2026.

“We hope to welcome our employees back in our stores soon,” she said.

With files from The Canadian Press