Union to protest Walmart bid

2011-03-22 08:04

South Africa’s main retail union said it will picket the offices of the competition watchdog, demanding it block Walmart’s plan to buy local chain Massmart or attach tough conditions.

The Competition Commission recommended last month that the world’s largest retailer’s plan to buy Massmart, South Africa’s third-largest listed store group by value, and which owns chains such as Game and Makro, for more than $4 billion (nearly R28 billion).

Shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favour of the $2.3 billion deal in January, which should help Massmart speed up expansion in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with vast growth potential.

The final hurdle is the hearing by the Competition Tribunal, which begins today and is set to last until Friday.

The South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union – which includes workers in the wholesale and retail sectors – is strongly opposed to the deal.

“We will tell the Competition Tribunal that we believe it is not in the best interest of South Africa for Walmart to be allowed into our country,” Bones Skulu, the union’s general secretary, said.

“We will also outline the conditions that must apply in the event that the tribunal believes differently and or otherwise rules that the company may enter,” Skulu said.

The union has formed an anti-Walmart coalition with other labour and activist groups.

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