A Wal-Mart administrator was recently quoted as saying that the only Wal-Mart workers who think about unions are unhappy associates. There must be lots of unhappy associates wearing Asda vests in England. That’s the name of the British company Wal-Mart took over in their retail American invasion. The Financial Times reported this week that Wal-Mart, obsessively anti-union, is facing nothing less than a union strike in Great Britain. According to the newspaper, Wal-Mart is in a tangle with one of the country’s largest unions over the issue of bargaining rights. The GMB union, which represents about half of Asda’s warehouse workers, has announced plans to strike for 5 days beginning June 30th. The strike will begin just as Brits are glued to the telly watching the final days of World Cup soccer. That’s a lot of people who won’t be filling up their fridge at Wal-Mart/Asda if the strike proceeds as planned. The GMB has promised that after the strike there will be more actions aimed at Asda. Wal-Mart acquired Asda seven years ago, and inherited a company with some union operations. Wal-Mart’s track record with unions is quite extreme, most recently exemplified by the retailer’s closure of a store in Jonquiere, Quebec, when workers there formed a union. Rather than deal with organized labor, Wal-Mart chose to shut the store down. A GMB spokesman told the Financial Times that the union saw “a clear clash of cultures between the way workers do business in Britain and the way Wal-Mart does business”. The GMB fully expects Wal-Mart is “gearing up to try to break this strike”, the GMB told the newspaper. The GMB says Asda should negotiate directly with its distribution center workers, who hold down jobs at the 20 centers in Britain. The GMB says its workers were denied a $550 pay bonus last year. The union is preparing to take legal action if Wal-Mart tries to hire scab workers to break the strike. Wal-Mart has said it will keep disruption to its customers to a minimum, but its tactics are not yet known. The Financial Times did say that Asda might sue the GMB for how it conducted the election that led to a strike action.
For a copy of Wal-Mart’s hilarious “Toolbox For Managers” on union-busting, contact [email protected] For other stories of Wal-Mart’s anti-union efforts, search the Newsflash page by “union.”