Zellers workers protest Target

A Zellers store, May 25, 2012. (QMI Agency/KARL TREMBLAY)

A Zellers store, May 25, 2012. (QMI Agency/KARL TREMBLAY)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:35 PM ET

Zellers employees in Calgary gathered outside two stores Saturday to protest "a Walmart-like approach to workers" by refusing to respect their loyalty, experience and labour rights.

Last January, when Target announced plans to enter the Canadian market, it said it would take over leases for about 220 Zellers stores owned by the Hudson’s Bay Co. for $1.82-billion. It will open 125 stores in 2013 and will announced more locations to be opened in 2014.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) says Target has told Zellers workers - even those with more than 30 years experience - that they will have to reapply for their same jobs, in the same locations, for starting pay and standards.

"Alberta needs good retail jobs to strengthen our communities and to create more fairness for working families," Douglas O'Halloran, president of the UFCW Local 401, said in a statement. "By refusing to respect the rights of Zellers workers, Target is telling Alberta that it's not interested in being a positive force for our province and the future of our economy. We need to send a strong message to Target and that starts with taking a stand, and that's why we are calling on all our friends and neighbours to join us at the protests on Saturday."

Small groups of workers gathered outside both locations, local media reported.