Union Recognition in Couche-Tard convenience stores - Quebec and Norvegian Unions join forces

Union Recognition in Couche-Tard convenience stores - Quebec and Norvegian 
Unions join forces 
OSLO, Norway, April 17, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Confédération des syndicats 
nationaux (Canada) and the The Norwegian union of commercial and office 
employees, HK-Norway , are planning to join forces in their efforts to defend 
and win union recognition in the convenience stores owned by the corporation 
Couche-Tard. A first meeting to exchange ideas in this regard was held on 
Monday and Tuesday in Oslo, the capital of Norway. 
The Norwegian labour organization HK-Norway represents some 263 employees in 
several Norwegian convenience stores, which do business under the Statoil 
banner, recently acquired by Couche-Tard. On this side of the Atlantic, the 
CSN represents about 100 employees in eight Quebec outlets. In the Province of 
Quebec, Couche-Tard has been making life difficult for any employees who wish 
to join a Union and negotiate their working conditions. The company has 
employed a variety of coercive tactics to discourage them, as well as various 
legal manoeuvres to delay, delay, delay. In Norway, the labour organization 
HK-Norway has announced that it plans to defend the rights of unionized 
employees and that Couche-Tard will have to recognize the existing Unions who 
have negotiated collective agreements in the past with the company Statoil, 
from whom Couche-Tard acquired its chain of convenience stores. 
Thumbs down to union recognition
The CSN was represented by its General Secretary, Jean Lortie. The latter 
explained the many difficulties encountered by Quebec workers in their 
attempts to organize a union and defend their rights."What they are seeking 
above all are decent working conditions; and collective bargaining is the path 
they have chosen. Couche-Tard refuses to recognize their Unions. Seldom, in 
the Province of Quebec, have we witnessed any employer deploy so much energy 
to combat unionization, underlines Jean Lortie. The employees who wish to join 
a Union have no choice but to do so in secret, for fear of reprisals. Once 
unionized, Couche-Tard has closed down profitable outlets and transferred 
others to franchisees, all in an attempt to shirk their obligations. It's 
unacceptable in the Province of Quebec and it is equally unacceptable in 
The Norwegian State is a shareholder
The labour organization HK-Norway recalls that the right to join a Union has 
been recognized internationally as a fundamental human right. "We believe that 
we have the responsibility to envisage every and all means necessary to bring 
the offending companies to heel. In this connection, we are asking the 
Norwegian Government to ensure that the Government Global Pension Fund play 
its role as an active investor in Couche-Tard, in which it is shareholder. It 
has done so in the past with several companies, for example WalMart, to get 
them to change their practices. Couche-Tard will have to recognize the Unions 
chosen democratically by its employees" says Torbjørn Brox Webber, HK's 
National Secretary. 
Meanwhile, HK-Norway representatives have vowed their solidarity towards 
Quebec Couche-Tard employees whose working conditions are at the bottom of the 
heap. They were surprised to learn that Couche-Tard has been the subject of 
more complaints submitted by employees for violations of the Province's 
minimum work standards legislation than WalMart. The impossibility of having 
their rights enforced is one of the key reasons that motivate workers to join 
a Union. Unionized Quebec Couche-Tard workers are currently negotiating in a 
relatively difficult context. They are notably seeking four paid sick days per 
year, psychological support services for any employee who is a victim of an 
armed attack and a safe and hygienic working environment. 
HK-Norway counts some 65.000 members. HK-Norway is affiliate to LO who count 
approximately 900.000 members. The CSN, numbers approximately 300,000 members 
in Canada, primarily in the Province of Quebec. 
Jean-Pierre Larche, CSN-Communications (514) 605-0757 
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ST: Quebec
-0- Apr/17/2013 11:19 GMT
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