Sun, Feb 27, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Wal-Mart Canada ordered to stop intimidating workers

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , OTTAWA

Wal-Mart Canada was ordered by Quebec's labor relations board on Friday to stop intimidating workers at a store in the midst of an organizing drive.

The decision involves three cashiers at a store in the Quebec City suburb of St. Foy and is the second unfair labor practice ruling against Wal-Mart in Quebec since September. Earlier this month, Wal-Mart Canada, a unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, announced that it would close a store in Jonquiere, Quebec, where employees had unionized and were attempting to negotiate the first collective agreement with the retail giant in North America.

The board ordered Wal-Mart to immediately stop "intimidating and harassing" the cashiers in St. Foy. But it imposed a relatively light penalty: Wal-Mart must post the decision in the store's lunchroom for 30 days.

Nevertheless, Jossee Lemieux, president of Local 503 of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union, said the decision was significant.

"Wal-Mart cannot violate the fundamental rights of its employees without paying any consequences," Lemieux said in a statement.

Andrew Pelletier, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada, which is based in Mississauga, Ontario, said the company took issue with the board's finding that its managers intimidated employees. But Pelletier added that Wal-Mart would not challenge the ruling.

"We feel the appropriate thing to do is not appeal," Pelletier said. "We want to comply and just move forward in St. Foy."

The labor board found that the three workers experienced varying forms of intimidation. One was taken into an office by the manager and an assistant manager who demanded the names of union sympathizers. Another was threatened with a negative job evaluation if she supported the union drive. In the third case, a manager suggested that the cashier retract a recently signed union card.

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