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03.06.2006 Business & Finance

Wal-Mart blocking union in Ghana

By UNI global union

The long arm of Wal-Mart has reached Africa and threatens union representation in a garment supplier in Ghana.

UNI affiliate ICU was well advanced with organising and winning recognition for 400 garment workers in Accra when Wal-Mart intervened.

Ghana's fast growing garment industry has become part of the global supply chain to Wal-Mart - the world's biggest retailer that is viciously anti-union on its home base in the United States and Canada.

Arriving for a meeting with local management the ICU team were introduced to Wal-Mart representatives. Later the company told the ICU could not go ahead with the process of union recognition that was well advanced if it wanted to keep its business with Wal-Mart.

The company is currently refusing to sign the required form that would permit formal certification of the union in the factory.

"This shows that Wal-Mart not only refuses to let its own workers join a union, but it goes to extraordinary lengths to stop workers joining unions in its supply chain," said ICU General Secretary Napoleon Kpoh.

He was speaking in Vienna after reporting the Wal-Mart intervention to the UNI Management Committee.

The ICU hasn't gone away - it's now considering its response.