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Thu, Aug 05, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Canadian union wins right to set up shop at Wal-Mart

AFP , MONTREAL

Canadian trade unionists on Tues-day proclaimed a "great victory" for Wal-Mart workers around the globe, after winning the right to form the first labor guild at a branch of the world's largest company.

Workers celebrated in Jonquiere, Saguenay region, 200km north of Quebec City, after the province's Labor Relations board gave them the go-ahead on Monday to claim the first unionized Wal-Mart store in the world.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest firm in terms of revenues and employees, has erected a union firewall around its stores. Low labor costs have allowed the firm to slash prices on goods in its huge stores. Only a few meat cutters in Texas have so far managed to outflank the firm's strict no-union policies.

"This is great victory for the workers in Jonquiere, and for Wal-Mart workers everywhere," said Michael Fraser, Canada director of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

"The majority of workers in Jonquiere have spoken, so we expect Wal-Mart to listen and get down to negotiating a first contract without delay," he said.

Wal-Mart Canada spokesman Andrew Pelletier said that the company was disappointed that the union did not allow Wal-Mart members to hold a secret ballot on representation.

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