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2005-02-14
Ottawa, Canada. Lawmaker Accuses Wal-Mart of "Economic Terrorism."

A member of Canada's Parliament says the Canadian government should intervene to force Wal-Mart to respect worker's rights in that country, in the aftermath of the retailer's decision to shut down a store in Jonquiere, Quebec that became unionized. David Christopherson, a Member of Parliament, told the House of Commons, "Wal-Mart's closure of its first unionized store is being characterized as economic terrorism, a blatant attempt to smash organizing activities across the country. Wal-Mart has forced manufacturers to relocate overseas at the cost of thousands of Canadian jobs and now it has sent a message to its 70,000 Canadian workers telling them that they do not have the right to organize, they do not have the right to collective bargaining, and they do not have the right to decent wages or hours of work. What is the government going to do to protect Canadian workers from corporate bullies like Wal-Mart?" Canada's Labour Minister Joe Fontana also sent a clear message to the American retailer: "This government that truly believes, under part I of the Canada Labour Code, in collective bargaining. We believe that both workers and employers have an opportunity and obligation to build the best economy, to be fair and equitable to each other and to build a Canadian society that we can all be proud of." These comments were reported by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). MP Christopherson added more invective against Wal-Mart: "The fact of the matter is that Wal-Mart is an international corporation. This is affecting Canadians right across the country. In Saskatchewan, for instance, right now Wal-Mart is challenging the laws that protect workers' rights during an organizing drive. This is a constitutional matter in Saskatchewan. What is the minister going to do to stand up for those workers in Saskatchewan who have a right to have their constitutional rights protected?" In a related matter, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union has indicated that it plans to take Wal-Mart to the Quebec Labour Relations Commission to require the company to "prove that the store in Jonquière was losing money" -- a claim that Wal-Mart used as the reason for closing the store. The union says the store was making money and unionization would not have changed that. "Wal-Mart’s calculated ruthlessness was not about profit," a union spokesperson said. "It was about power – the absolute power that Wal-Mart wants over its workers, and suppliers and towns it does business in."

What you can do: For earlier stories about Wal-Mart's inability to deal with unions, search this database by "unions."










 
 
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