Wal-Mart has crushed another effort by its Quebec employees to unionize, citing unworkable union wages as the reason behind the closure of its tire and lube express outlet at its Gatineau store on Maloney Boulevard.

"People don't want to work for nothing. Today, life is too expensive to work for nothing," said Wal-Mart shopper Lisette Wallingford, who went to pick up her tires Thursday, only to find the shop closed.

Nine employees who work in the shop were unionized in 2005. After three years of stalled talks with Wal-Mart, an arbitrator imposed a collective agreement, along with a wage increase of about 30 per cent over three years.

"This collective agreement was unworkable. It would have meant we'd have to increase our prices by at least 30 per cent and that was something we weren't ready to do," said Yanik Deschenes, director of Wal-Mart's corporate affairs department.

Meanwhile, the union accuses Wal-Mart of deliberately slowing down work at the lube shop, making it unprofitable for the company to keep open.

According to the union, four of the nine employees were laid off over the course of two months. The other five employees were offered either a buyout package or a job at another Wal-Mart location which isn't unionized.

In 2005, Wal-Mart closed its store in Jonquiere, Que., days before an arbitrator imposed a contract for its employees. Now, Quebec shoppers are questioning the company's motives for shutting down the tire and lube outlet in Gatineau.

"I don't think it's fair," one shopper told CTV Ottawa. "People work hard, so they deserve the money that they're working for."

"They' shouldn't be allowed to close. The government should do something, but like the rest of it, they won't do nothing," said another.

Union representative are meeting in Montreal this week to figure out how to fight the closure. They also say they hope the Quebec government will intervene.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr

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