UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

March 25, 2005 13:59 ET

Union asks labour board to halt closure of unionized Québec Wal-Mart

UFCW Canada files unfair labour practice charges stemming from Wal-Mart closure announcement Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor QUÉBEC CITY, QUÉBEC --(CCNMatthews - March 25, 2005) - UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers Canada) has applied to the Québec Labour Relations Commission (QLRC), seeking among other things, to halt the closing of a recently unionized Wal-Mart store in Jonquière, Québec.

The application was filed with the QLRC on Thursday.

"We have pledged to take every possible measure to support Wal-Mart employees who want to assert their rights," said Yvon Bellemare, president of the UFCW Canada Interprovincial Council and UFCW Canada Local 501.

"That is what we want to accomplish with this application. Wal-Mart uses a range of tactics to prevent employees from unionizing. One of them was Wal-Mart announcing its plan to close the Jonquière store. In our opinion, this tactic is in contravention of section 15 of the Québec Labour Code," said Bellemare.

"The real reason for shutting the Jonquière store is that the employees stood their ground by unionizing, and not because of any alleged financial difficulties. This closing really amounts to dismissing people for engaging in union activity, and is a violation of the Québec Labour Code and the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which guarantee the right to free association."

The UFCW Canada application has several components. The union has asked the QLRC to stay the closing of the Jonquière store until the Commission has rendered a decision on section 15 and subsequent sections of the Québec Labour Code concerning dismissals; and until the QLRC has rendered a decision on other charges filed against Wal-Mart of harassing employees who support the union.

In addition, the union is asking that the closing of the Jonquière store be stayed for as long as arbitrator Jean-Pierre Tremblay takes to deliver his decision about the terms of the store's collective agreement. (The union had applied for binding arbitration, as provided under the provincial Labour Act, on February 1, 2005. A week later the Minister of Labour agreed to the arbitration request, and on that same day Wal-Mart announced its plans to shut the store in May.)

The application also claims exemplary damages for serious and irreparable damage.

"Since announcing their intention to shut the Jonquière store, Wal-Mart mercenaries have stepped up psychological and other forms of intimidation and harassment of workers who are sympathetic to the union," according to Louis Bolduc, assistant to the national director of UFCW Canada and vice-president of the FTQ.

"In addition," said Bolduc, "they continue to spread rumours of other possible closures. This is occurring with the full knowledge of the Wal-Mart administration. It is absolutely intolerable, and we are taking action so that employees can work in a healthy atmosphere."

In addition the union has asked the QLRC to prohibit Wal-Mart from closing any other store in which a unionization campaign is currently in progress; to grant automatic certification to any store for which an application for certification has been or will be filed; to compel Wal-Mart to pay damages to all employees who have suffered as a result of the company's unfair labour practices..

UFCW Canada represents more than 45,000 members in Québec, more than 240,000 members across Canada, and is affiliated with the FTQ; Québec's largest union confederation representing 500,000 members.

-30- /For further information: Yvon Bellemare, President UFCW Canada Local 501 (514) 946-0410. Mr. Bolduc and Mr. Bellemare can be contacted Friday and throughout the weekend./ IN: JUSTICE, LABOUR, POLITICS, RETAIL, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Louis Bolduc, Asst. to the National Director, UFCW Canada
    Primary Phone: 514-592-0301