The rest of the province is watching as negotiations continue between Loblaw Companies Ltd. and the union representing workers at nine grocery stores in southwestern Ontario.

As many as 1600 workers walked off the job yesterday morning from stores in Windsor, Chatham, Sarnia, and Kingsville.

Contract negotiations resumed Thursday under a media blackout. Wages, work schedules and benefits are among the issues cited after a tentative contract agreement was rejected by workers last month.

Loblaw says another 60 stores represented by UFCW Local 1000A are scheduled to go on strike on Sunday in markets from London, Ont., to Ottawa. Workers at the additional stores rejected a tentative deal by a vote of 61 per cent.

This is the first strike action the union has taken since its formation in 1940. 

The company says the nine stores will remain open but under modified work hours.