Union rabble rousing precedes Massmart vote

Dow Jones this morning reported that South African retailer and Walmart takeover target Massmart Holdings has given assurances it will continue to honor all agreements with labor unions and local labor laws if the buyout goes through. That’s what Walmart and Massmart have been saying since the deal was announced last year but they have to keep saying it because union activists are everywhere in the world. In this case, a shareholders meeting is planned for next week to vote on the deal and the union known as South Africa Commerical, Catering and Allied Workers Union had previously indicated it would protest at the meeting. Protest what? Not exactly sure, but a high profile demonstration at a company meeting is an opportune time to put pressure on new owners to offer more generous pay and benefits. To do so, the South African union is trotting out familiar arguments that sound as if they came straight from the playbook of the UFCW, Walmart’s nemesis in the United States. The Dow Jones report said the union had accused Walmart of being anti-union and pursuing procurement policies that are damaging to local suppliers and economies.

 Well duh! Of course Walmart is anti-union, but that doesn’t mean it will, or could afford to, disregard prior union agreements. As for its procurement policies, they have been known to have a detrimental effect on some suppliers, but all the merchandise the company sells has to come from some where which means a boon for other suppliers. It doesn’t seem to matter where Walmart goes in the world it is dogged by the same arguments it has heard domestically for decades.


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