Massmart contacts unions on Wal-Mart offer

Massmart executives have contacted labour unions regarding the offer by global retail giant Wal-Mart to purchase the local company for R30-billion.

In a statement on Tuesday, Massmart said this happened on Monday morning as the Wal-Mart offer was made public.

“Massmart notes the comments that have been made regarding perceptions of Wal-Mart’ s union relationships,” the group said.

The local company said its management was “mindful” that a corporate transaction of this nature should be aligned with the rights of all Massmart stakeholders, which clearly included the rights unions had negotiated in the organisation.

“We are committed to the principles of freedom of association for our employees and regard union membership as an important indicator of this commitment.”

Massmart said it had no doubt that Wal-Mart would honour pre-existing union relationships and abide by South African labour law.

‘Notoriously anti-union’
Earlier, the Western Cape branch of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it was opposed to Wal-Mart’s presence in the country.

“We are alarmed that we are even considering an offer from Wal-Mart to take over key strategic national companies in South Africa,” Cosatu said in a statement.

Wal-Mart was “notoriously anti-union” and an affront to workers’ rights wherever it operated.

“We call for urgent national action from government to investigate this hostile move by Wal-Mart.

However, in response to Cosatu’s statement, Wal-Mart said it respected and abided by the laws of each country in which it operated.

“Wal-Mart does not adopt a single labour relations strategy because each country is different.”

The group said it honoured existing union relationships and contracts within acquired companies, as well as actively implementing work environments based on “respect for the individual”.

According to the group, approximately 50% of the countries in which it operated had unions at some level. - Sapa

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