Wal-Mart pays the price for unionisation store closure

Wal-Mart has been ordered to compensate a number of former employees in Canada, after it was ruled that the retail giant closed a store as a reprisal against unionised workers.

The Quebec Labour Board ruled that Wal-Mart Canada failed to prove that the closing of its store in Jonquière in April was “real, genuine and definitive” as required under the Quebec Labour Code.

The store became the first unionised Wal-Mart store in North America last year when the workers were recognised as a bargaining unit by Quebec’s labour officials.

However, the move was fiercely opposed by the company, which closed the store. It claimed that the work environment became “very fractured” because some people were part of the union and some were not.

The closure led to 79 of the store’s 190 former employees filing for compensation under the labour code.

During the hearings, the board was told that the retail giant had yet to rescind a 20-year lease on the store building, and had made no effort to sublet it.

This led the labour board to conclude that the store could reopen and that, under the province’s labour code, it was closed as a sanction against staff who were exercising their right to unionise and negotiate their first collective agreement.
The board will determine the “appropriate remedies” for the former employees later.


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