March 23, 2011

Union coalition welcomes decision by Competition Tribunal to stay proceedings

(Pretoria, South Africa)–The proposed entry of Walmart to South Africa via the takeover of Massmart was due to be heard this week by the Competition Tribunal.

The global coalition of unions opposed to the merger–South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), UNI Global Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) of North America–came to the hearing ready to proceed today.

The South African Government then applied for a postponement in order to present evidence to challenge the economic evidence of the companies.

The Tribunal issued a ruling which would have essentially made a fair process impossible. The government would have been allowed to present its evidence in the future, but the unions would not be allowed to see or use this evidence before going forward today.

SACCAWU protested this unfair decision and asked for the hearing to be suspended while the decision was under appeal.

In a dramatic reversal, the Tribunal stayed the entire case until May 9.

“”It is only fair that all evidence be on the table before we go forward,” said Christy Hoffman, Deputy Secretary of UNI Global Union. “It was the best outcome in a difficult situation.”

“”It is paramount that a decision of this magnitude—whether to give a giant like Walmart access to the South African economy—is made with care and through due process,” said Michael Bride of UFCW. “While today’s decision was far from perfect, we applaud the Tribunal for creating a fairer process in the end.”