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#WalmartGlobal: why we’re taking on the world’s largest employer

by Alke Boessiger

#WalmartGlobal: why we're taking on the world's largest employer

Today, Walmart workers around the world are taking to the streets in protest.

They are calling on their employer and its owners – the obscenely rich Walton family – to provide a living wage and decent work.

As the world’s largest private employer Walmart represents inequality run wild.

The Waltons are worth a staggering US$150 billion, yet it would take the average Brazilian Walmart worker 30 million years to amass the same fortune.

Walmart workers everywhere are fed up with barely scraping by on poverty pay, precarious contracts and terrible working conditions.

The gross inequality between the earnings of a Walmart worker and the Walton family underscores the injustice of the Walmart business model.

We agree with these workers that this unacceptable. The inequality train is running down decent hard-working people and it’s driven by the likes of the Waltons.

And that is why Walmart workers and their supporters will be out in force, everywhere from São Paulo to South Africa, from Bentonville [in Arkansas where the company’s global headquarters are based] to Bombay – and beyond.

With the support of UNI Global Union and its affiliates, Walmart workers in 10 countries including the United States, Mexico, and Brazil, are standing up to expose Walmart’s bad labour practices throughout the company’s stores, warehouses and global supply chain.

The demand is simple: Walmart must publicly commit to pay its 2.2 million workers at its stores, and countless more in its supply chain, a living wage.

Workers, along with members of the UNI Walmart Global Union Alliance, will be taking their grievances to the street, calling on the Walton family to use their power and wealth to change the company’s culture.

 

Global actions

In Gurgaon, India, protesters will assemble outside of the company’s India headquarters to call on Walmart to respect the rights of the country’s 10 million-plus street vendors by ensuring fair competition.

In Mexico City, protestors will denounce the company’s handling of corruption allegations and its poor treatment of workers.

In Miami, protesters – including worker- members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) – will gather outside Walmart’s Latin American headquarters to call for US$15 an hour and to provide full-time working hours.

Today also marks the announcement of Walmart’s nomination for the “Lifetime Worst Corporation Award” at the 2015 Public Eye Awards.

Walmart receives this nomination primarily because of its abysmal failure to adequately address the safety concerns of workers in Bangladesh.

It has also failed to compensate the families whose loved ones perished more than 18 months ago in the Rana Plaza building collapse, where it is believed that Walmart was sourcing garments.

So what do we want from Walmart? UNI’s Global demands are as follows:

-  Living wages: extremely low wages along with inconsistent scheduling makes it difficult for many Walmart workers to support their families. Fair pay and more hours would allow workers to do so without having to resort to charitable donations from customers.

-  Employment security: the imposition of part-time work, casual employment contracts or – as in the case of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. workers – no contracts at all, means that Walmart workers have no employment security. Full time, permanent work must be the rule rather than the exception.

-  Respect: workers who assert their freedom of association in an attempt to resolve issues or improve working conditions frequently face harassment, intimidation and other forms of retribution from the company. Respect, safety and job security must be the bear minimum when anyone speaks out.

For images and updates throughout the Global Day of Action, please follow #WalmartGlobal and visit ActionNetwork.org to view a global map of all activities.

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Your comments

  • On 19 November 2014 at 22:08, by Ken Meyer Replying to: #WalmartGlobal: why we’re taking on the world’s largest employer

    If.....

    ..."Walmart workers everywhere are fed up with barely scraping by on poverty pay, precarious contracts and terrible working conditions."

    ....and feel that they’re not being fairly compensated (i.e. - receiving market valuation compensation/conditions) for the labor they provide, then why don’t they go ELSEWHERE to work?

    Better yet, instead of griping about Wal-Mart all the time, why don’t people like the author PROVIDE THE JOBS THAT ENABLE WORKERS TO LEAVE WAL_MART!

    Is that too much to ask? I.e. - to expect the loudmouths to put THEIR money where THEIR mouths are, and actually do THEMSELVES what they’re demanding others to do?

    How about...sound like a plan? Might be nice for a change to see the "gimme, gimme" artists do something positive instead of constantly whinning about how they’re not being given what they want.

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