April 29, 2005 - JONQUIÈRE, QC - Wal-Mart Canada today shut a recently unionized store in Jonquière, Québec, a week earlier than the previously announced.
In February Wal-Mart said it would shut the location on May 6, 2005, just months after the store was unionized by UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers Canada). The decision to close early comes days after the Québec Labour Commission ruled it would consider an application by UFCW Canada to force Wal-Mart to keep the store open until a series of unfair labour practice charges filed against Wal-Mart were ruled on by the commission.
The earlier than announced closure was not wholly unexpected. Wal-Mart had progressively emptied the store over the last month and accelerated that after Wal-Mart became aware of a National Day of Action by labour activists planned for May 6th at various Wal-Mart locations in Québec, and May 7th at Wal-Marts across the rest of Canada.
“Wal-Mart’s decision to sneak out of town early was no surprise,” according to Michael Fraser, the national director of UFCW Canada. “Every bully is a coward and Wal-Mart was afraid if they waited till next week the media and outraged local citizens would be there for the closing.”
"They were also scared that the labour commission might order them to keep Jonquière open. Once again Wal-Mart has demonstrated that the only rulebook it plays by is its own.”
In spite of the early closure, the National Day of Action events will proceed next week, as will first contract arbitration between TUAC 503 and Wal-Mart regarding the Jonquière store. Arbitration is scheduled to commence May 11th under the authority of an arbitrator appointed by the Quebec Ministry of Labour.
First contract negotiations also continue for a Wal-Mart store recently certified in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec.