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Time to boycott this monster??
Yes, its about time to show them  75%  [ 6 ]
No  25%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 8

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:36 am ... 00-cp.html
MONTREAL (CP) - Wal-Mart Canada's decision to close one of its unionized stores a week ahead of schedule was blasted by a union official on Friday as a "cowardly" act.

The giant retailer's announcement regarding the Saguenay store drew widespread criticism from the union movement, which has long been at loggerheads with the company.

Wal-Mart had previously slated the closure for May 6, saying the store, located about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City, was not profitable. On Friday, company spokesman Kevin Groh said the decision to pull the plug a week early was "easy" to make, although in a later interview he said he meant to say the decision made sense.

"Anyone who saw the store in the last few days should not have been surprised," said Groh, Wal-Mart Canada's manager of corporate affairs.

"It was virtually a shell and there comes a time when it doesn't make a lot of sense to operate a department store without merchandise and full of associates (employees) who could use their time better, either personally or for taking next steps professionally."

But that didn't wash with Michael Forman, a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

"They accelerated the process of emptying the store because they're aware that next week there's going to be a day of action across the country at various Wal-Marts," Forman said in an interview.

"As usual, the good neighbour they portray themselves to be just did the cowardly thing, which was to shut the door in advance."

The 200-odd employees received their union accreditation last year but were never able to negotiate a first contract.

Groh said Wal-Mart has closed unprofitable stores in the past in other countries, including Germany, Argentina and the United States. They included stores where there was no unionization drive.

The company announcement came just as a provincial labour relations commission was to hear arguments Friday on a union motion aimed at preventing the company from closing the Saguenay store and other Wal-Mart outlets in Quebec.

Groh said the employees received 12 weeks notice, will be paid until May 6 and will receive two weeks of severance pay for every year's service.

That means most of them will get between seven and eight weeks of severance pay as well as career counselling, he said.

"Under normal circumstances, they would be entitled to two weeks of working notice, so I think we've gone above and beyond, and it's something we're very pleased to have been able to do."

Groh said union contract demands would have required the hiring of 30 additional full-time employees.

"The business could not continue and frankly we were unable to convince the union to accept a contract that would have allowed the store to continue operating profitably and efficiently."

But Yvon Bellemare, a Quebec union official, said Wal-Mart just wanted to avoid the media barrage he believes the company would have faced next week.

"They're not respecting their word and they're not respecting workers' rights," Bellemare said.

Two of the women who helped organize the Saguenay union said Friday they were booed when they left the store.

Sylvie Lavoie and Johanne Desbiens said they also received physical threats and had epithets hurled at them while managers stood by and did nothing.

But another employee, who didn't support the union, said it was a simple case of "thanking" those who were part of the union.

"We just applauded those who were part of the union," she said, adding it was their way of saying goodbye to their jobs.

Forman, meanwhile, said the company will still have to sit down on May 11 and begin arbitration for a first contract at the Saguenay store even if it is closed.

"If Wal-Mart chooses to reopen the store in Jonquiere (Saguenay) any time, that store can only be reopened with the contract as negotiated."

He also said any contract for the Saguenay store could act as a template for any future bargaining agreement reached at a unionized store in St-Hyacinthe, east of Montreal.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:39 am

Has any one ever seen the documentary about this company where they have been the cause of some big outfits closing thier doors because they just cant afford to deal with wally World? Walmart decides what they will pay and if you dont like it too bad... jobs are being lotston a daily basis as suppliers are out sourceing thier work to over seas companies that work for a pittance and employ allmost sweatshop labour to produce wall marts goods...The Quebec store unionised, so Wall mart just closed the doors and said "too bad, see ya"

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 8:07 am

I think it just shows the Quebecers who are so used to getting their way our govt, that big corporate buisness won't tolerate them trying to get their way like they are so accustomed to, it is unfortunate that this had to occur though.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2005 8:16 am

Wal-Mart has a rather interesting history. It isn't the same outfit that Sam Walton started and grew. From the first store in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962 to the naming of David Glass as president in 1988, Wal-Mart was a fairly good corporate citizen and employer. Wages were better than the average in the retail sector and the employee retention rate was better than other big box stores, on par with JC Penny and Sears.

One of Wal-Mart's success stories was the ability to grow to become the largest private employer in the world (1.3 million employees) without being hampered by unions and labour organizations. While they used to achieve that goal through decent wages and benefits, since 1990 there has been a steady decline in comparable wages and employee satisfaction has deteriorated to a near state of misery in some stores.

The closing of the Jonquiere store is a message to all who work for Wal-Mart: "The 'Board' will decide how you are treated. We've come this far without a union and we're not going to let one in now. We are large enough to close a whole store without it affecting our share prices, our revenue stream or the profit line in the annual report. If you attempt to unionize, we will simply close the store and put you out of work. Since we have squeezed out the competition through barely legal trade practices, there is no other job out there for you. Zellers already has too many employees and the major Canadian outlets have long since closed their doors. We have one goal - profit. We serve one master - the shareholder. There is only one number that matters - the bottom line. If you do anything without 'board' approval which can be interpreted as even remotely affecting those three things or worse, spreading through the ranks of the corporation, you are gone. And you'll be tossed out into the barren retail landscape that we created. You will become a lesson for all other 'associates'. Minimum wage is better than no wage at all. Get used to it."

Yeah, I saw that doc on Wal-Mart. Kinda makes you want to gag.

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