retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Washington Post reports that Walmart, which has stores in the Washington, DC, area and is planning to open four within the District, is “considering a job training partnership with the University of the District of Columbia's new community college to prepare city residents for jobs and combat concerns over its employment practices ... Wal-Mart began meeting with members of the D.C. Council in recent months to discuss ways the company could contribute to training for city residents. Such a partnership could advance another of the company's goals - stemming criticism from union groups and activists who say it does not fairly compensate employees and who are organizing to oppose the chain's plans.”

• Shareholders in Massmart Holdings of South Africa have agreed to sell 51 percent of the company to Walmart, a move that gives the retailers its first foothold in the growing sub-Saharan African market.

According to the story, “Massmart operates several wholesale and retail chains, including Game general-merchandise stores, Builders Warehouse for construction and Makro warehouse-club stores. The bulk of the company's 288 stores are in South Africa, although Massmart also operates in 13 other sub-Saharan countries.”

However, the sales is not yet a done deal. According to the Wall Street Journal story, “the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union, which held a press conference outside the venue where Massmart shareholders voted, said it will challenge the planned takeover through competition law and ‘in the political realm.’ It said it would also ‘directly educate’ its membership about the implications for workers, accusing Wal-Mart of being antiunion.”
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