South African unions are rightly disturbed at prospects that anti-union retail giant Walmart will move big time into their country. Walmart executives have announced a $4.6 billion bid for South Africa’s Massmart, an important, unionized company. Massmart Holdings Limited operates more than 290 stores in Africa, most of them in South Africa
"We will oppose the setting up of any Walmart stores in the Western Cape," a spokesperson for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said. "These companies are notoriously anti-union and anti-workers' rights."
Probably thinking of the three weeks of tumultuous strikes that recently swept the country, Massmart leaders hastened to reassure COSATU that its intentions, and the intention’s of Walmart, were strictly on the up and up with regard to its employees and their union. In this context, the company placed the following statement on its website:
We are committed to the principles of freedom of association for our employees and regard union membership as an important indicator of this commitment .… We have no doubt that Walmart will honour pre-existing union relationships and abide by South African Labour law.The statement cited the comment of a Walmart vice-president, who said that his company hoped for a “continuation of the relationship that Massmart has with relevant unions in the country."