South Africa’s biggest labour federation will launch the “mother of all boycotts” against Massmart if the retailer becomes majority owned by US firm Wal-Mart, a union official said on Monday.
Speaking to a meeting of Massmart’s shareholders, the first deputy president of politically influential labour group Cosatu called on them to reject Wal-Mart’s $2,3 billion offer to acquire a 51% stake of the South African discount retailer.
“We urge shareholders to vote against this deal. If the deal goes through, Cosatu will do what it does best. We will organise a mother of all boycotts against Massmart,” Tyotyo James said.
Massmart shareholders were due to vote on whether to approve the offer on Monday.
Wal-Mart has said it will honour Massmart’s existing agreements with its unions. It has also said Massmart would retain its South African management if the deal goes through.
Analysts have said keeping local expertise would be critical to avoiding a bruising fight with unions.
Cosatu is in a governing alliance with the ruling ANC and wields enormous power over politics and the economy.
Wal-Mart said in November it had received irrevocable agreements to accept the offer from shareholders holding 35,2 % of Massmart.
It also said it had received non-binding letters of support from shareholders holding an additional 15% of Massmart.