Wal-Mart Court Ruling a Narrow Technical Victory Georgetti says judgment applies only in Quebec
By: Marketwire . Nov. 27, 2009 04:09 PM
OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 11/27/09 -- The president of the Canadian Labour Congress says that Supreme Court of Canada judgments involving a Wal-Mart store closure in Quebec are based on legal technicalities and that the ruling would likely not apply in the rest of Canada.
Ken Georgetti was commenting on SCC rulings today in two cases related to Wal-Mart's shutting down its store in Jonquiere, Quebec in April 2005. "We have always believed that Wal-Mart closed its store in Jonquiere because its employees had voted to join a union," Georgetti says. "But the Supreme Court of Canada has now ruled that under the Quebec labour code, the onus was on the workers to prove that the company closed the store for that reason. In other provinces and territories the onus would have been on the company to prove that was not the case."
Wal-Mart shut down the store, throwing 190 employees out of work, seven months after the United Food and Commercial Workers had been certified to represent workers there. The company claimed the store was not profitable. Georgetti says, "This decision will not deter unions from taking on Wal-Mart in Quebec and other provinces."
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils.
"A majority of the Supreme Court judges rejected their appeal. They ruled that under the specific section of the Quebec Labour Code that formed the basis of the workers complaints, the workers cannot seek remedy if their former place of employment no longer exists.
Had the workers brought forward their case under a separate section of the Labour Code, namely sections 12 to 14, then the question of whether Wal-Mart closed the store as part of an anti-union strategy might have been put in play."
This ruling clearly stated that closing may require compensation.
George Avraam, a voice representing employer groups states:
“[That said], this case doesn’t give a carte blanche to employers across the country to shut down their operations regardless of the reasons ... If there’s a case, they would award damages to employees.”