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Quebec, Norway labour groups team to bolster Couche-Tard union efforts

A dog named Roxy waits outside a Couche-Tard convenience store in Montreal, April 18, 2012.


The Quebec trade union seeking to unionize convenience stores in the Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. chain is stepping up its efforts by joining forces with organized labour on Couche-Tard's new turf in Norway.

The Conféderation des syndicats nationaux (CSN) said on Wednesday it is teaming up with Norway's union of commercial and office employees – HKNorway – in a concerted effort to defend employees' rights in both Quebec and the Scandinavian country.

The CSN has won certification to represent workers at eight Couche-Tard locations in Quebec and says the company uses coercive tactics to block its wider unionization efforts.

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HK says it represents 263 employees in several convenience stores doing business under the Statoil banner, a chain acquired by Laval, Que.,-based Couche-Tard last year. HK says it intends to defend the rights of unionized employees and wants to ensure that Couche-Tard will recognize the existing unions that have negotiated collective agreements in the past with Statoil.

The CSN's general secretary Jean Lortie met with HK officials in Oslo on Monday and Tuesday, the two unions said in a news release Wednesday.

"Couche-Tard will have to recognize the unions chosen democratically by its employees," said HK national secretary Torbjorn Brox Webber.

Couche-Tard spokeswoman Martine Coutu said it is company policy not to comment on the unionization issue.

The CSN recently criticized moves by Couche-Tard to franchise more of its stores in Quebec, saying it's an attempt to undermine efforts to win certification at more locations.

Couche-Tard president and chief executive officer Alain Bouchard has said in the past that his business model is not built to last under unionization in Quebec if it's in the context of being the only retailer to be organized.

The CSN is the province's second largest labour union, with about 300,000 members in Canada, mostly in Quebec.

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HK has about 65,000 members.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More


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