TORONTO — Citing “an unworkable union contract” that increased costs by more than 30%, Wal-Mart Canada on Thursday closed the Tire Lube Express automotive center at its discount store in Gatineau, Quebec. The center won certification with the United Food and Commercial Workers union in 2005, and a contract was imposed by the Quebec Labor Board in August.
Wal-Mart Canada in a statement said it could not provide value to customers when the contract called for 33% wage increases for the center’s employees. “For three years Wal-Mart Canada participated in the bargaining and arbitration process in good faith with the hope of achieving a reasonable contract that would keep the Gatineau TLE open,” Andrew Pelletier, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada, said in a statement.
The Gatineau auto center — which employed five workers and a manager, who will be offered positions at other Wal-Mart auto centers or the Gatineau discount store, which was not affected by Thursday’s announcement — was the second Wal-Mart business in Quebec to close following organized labor winning representation. A discount store in Jonquierre closed in 2005 just as contract bargaining was to begin.
Wayne Hanley, president of UFCW Canada, in a statement Thursday said the Gatineau closing was “one more example of [Wal-Mart’s] blatant disregard for Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Wal-Mart objected to the certification processes at the Jonquierre and Gatinueau locations, saying the union did not allow a vote of all employees.
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