Mumbai: A Wal-Mart Stores Inc outlet in Canada has signed a contract with its workers – making it the retailer's only outlet in North America to sign a collective agreement with workers – following the award imposed by an arbitrator.
The agreement, however, affects only eight employees at the retailer giant's tyre and lube garage at the Gatineau store across the river in Ottawa, Quebec.
The contract, imposed by a Quebec government arbitrator, is for three years and provides the eight employees with an improved wage scale, annual hikes and a mechanism for dispute settlement.
The Canadian subsidiary of Wal-Mart signed the contract to avert a shut-down of the small unit and maintain efficiency of operation.
Wal-Mart earlier had to close a store in Jonquiere, Quebec, perhaps the first in North America to obtain union certification, in 2005.
Last week the Supreme Court of Canada had agreed to hear a challenge from former employees at the Jonquiere store, who charge they unfairly lost their jobs because of their union activism.
Wal-Mart Canada, however, maintained that they had lost their jobs for reasons that would have led to the closure the store.
Although there are other Wal-Mart stores with union presence in Canada, it is the first time a collective agreement was signed. In Quebec, labor laws and public opinion generally tend to favor organised labor.
There are about 250 Wal-Mart employees in other parts of the Gatineau store and 77,000 in the whole of Canada.
Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, has a record of keeping unions out of bound in the whole of North America and the agreement assumes importance on this score.