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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Wal-Mart to Close Unionized Quebec Store to Avoid Collective Bargaining

Posted to the IUF website 24-Feb-2005

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Wal-Mart Canada has announced plans to close its store in Jonqui�re, Quebec some six months after a majority of workers successfully won the right to join UFCW Local 503 (click here for background) and bargain a collective agreement. The company cited financial considerations as the reason for the closure, which is to take effect in 90 days. The UFCW Canada denounced the move as "a business decision that the cost of disposing of 200 men and women in Jonqui�re was a good long term investment in creating fear in the rest of their employees across Canada and the United States." Earlier this year the UFCW succeeded in winning recognition at a second Quebec Wal-Mart (background). The UFCW internationally is fighting back with a campaign which includes an on-line petition to pressure the company to cancel the planned closure.

Wal-Mart has also come under pressure in the US following an outrageous settlement with the federal Labor Department in the case of child labour violations at 24 Wal-Mart stores in three states. The complaints involved 85 employees under 18 years of age in such abuses as using dangerous machinery, excess hours and working during school time etc. Without admitting to having committed violations, the company agreed to pay USD 135,450 to settle the complaints. As part of the deal, the Labor Department formally guaranteed the company 15 days advance notice of investigation into future complaints - more than enough time to fire the complaining worker. Protest by unions and other organizations led to a demand in the US Congress for an internal Labor Department review of the decision. The attorney general of the state of Connecticut has called for a national investigation into child labour abuses at Wal-Mart.