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Wal-Mart loses Quebec Labour Board ruling

September 22, 2009

Former employees at a Wal-Mart store in Jonquière, Que., could be compensated for having lost their jobs after a decision to unionize.
The Quebec Labour Relations Board ruled Tuesday it was illegal for Wal-Mart to lay off 190 workers in April 2005, shortly after they sought union accreditation. In his ruling, arbitrator Jean-Guy Ménard said the company had not justified its decision to dismiss its employees. Ménard said Article 59 of Quebec's labour code protects the rights and working conditions of employees following their request for union accreditation.

United Food and Commercial Workers union local 503 president André Dumas welcomed the ruling. "It shows [Wal-Mart] is ready to take whatever it needs to get the union out of one of its stores," Dumas said. Though most of the former Wal-Mart employees have found new jobs, Dumas said it took some of them months to do so — one person still has not found work.

Wal-Mart disputes ruling

The company has already confirmed it will appeal the arbitrator's ruling. "If Wal-Mart had just wanted to close the store … that store would have closed from the moment that it became certified by the union — but that's not what happened," said Andrew Pelletier, Wal-Mart Canada's vice-president of corporate affairs.

The employees received union accreditation in Aug. 2004, but Pelletier said the store only closed eight months later. Wal-Mart initiated multiple bargaining sessions after the accreditation, Pelletier said.

However, he said there was "no way" the already struggling store could meet the union's demands.


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