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November 2010, Week 1

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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Sun, 7 Nov 2010 23:36:56 -0500
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S.Africa Union May Strike Over Wal-Mart, Massmart Deal

Thursday Nov 4, 2010 3:36pm GMT

By Tiisetso Motsoeneng

http://af.reuters.com/article/southAfricaNews/idAFLDE6A31S520101104?sp=true

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 4 (Reuters) - South Africa's service
industry union will not rule out the possibility of a
strike against Massmart (MSMJ.J) if U.S. firm Wal-Mart
(WMT.N) acquires a stake in the retailer, an official
said on Thursday.

Wal-Mart is looking to buy more than a 50 percent stake
in the discount retailer, which would give it a big
presence in Africa's largest economy and a springboard
into the fast-growing continent. [ID:nLDE69R0F4]

But Wal-Mart, which has long battled with organised
labour in the United States, could see its investment
sour if it fails to tame unions with close ties to
government which are already gunning for the retail
giant.

"We can't rule out the possibility of the strike,"
Mduduzi Mbongwe, deputy general secretary of the South
African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union
(SACCAWU) said, at a news conference.

The union, representing more than 150,000 workers in
the retail and catering industries, this week formed an
"Anti-Walmart Coalition".

Mike Abrahams, a SACCAWU spokesman, told Reuters that
the coalition planned to ask civil service unions to
put pressure on a major Massmart shareholder, the
Public Investment Corporation (PIC), to reject any
offer that would hurt workers' rights.

The PIC is a government pension fund and it is the
biggest shareholder of the firm in South Africa.

"We know the PIC has to balance out what's right for
shareholders, but the coalition would cooperate with
public services unions to ensure workers rights are not
compromised," Abrahams said.

The union sent 15 demands to the chief executive
officer of Massmart, Grant Pattison, relating to the
Wal-Mart offer. The demands include keeping employment
terms and agreements in place after the takeover and
extending them to all Wal-Mart's stores across the
world.

Shares in Massmart were 0.11 percent lower at 143 rand
by 1403GMT, well below Wal-Mart's potential offer price
of 148 rand per share. (Editing by David Dolan and Jon
Loades-Carter)

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