Global worker protest against the world's richest family
Geneva, 19 November 2014 – Today, Walmart workers are calling for the world’s largest private employer and its owners – the Waltons - to provide decent wages and good jobs in protests across the globe. With the support of UNI Global Union and its affiliates, Walmart workers in 10 countries including United States, Mexico, and Brasil are standing up to expose Walmart’s bad labor practices throughout the company’s stores, warehouses and global supply chain.
“I’m working to build the profits of the richest family on the globe, while putting my safety at risk just to go into work,” said a supply chain worker. “The Waltons need to see and hear what they are doing to families around the globe. It’s shameful.”
Fed up with barely scraping by on Walmart low-pay, part-time work and illegal treatment of workers, Walmart workers are calling on Walmart’s owners, the Waltons, to publicly commit to addressing issues in their stores, warehouses and supply chains.
“I am worried about how I’m going to pay for groceries this week while Alice Walton has paid off a US$200 million luxury condo in New York City,” said Emily Wells, a Walmart worker in the USA. “The Waltons are at the center of the income inequality problems that are hurting the global economy and all of our families.”
The Waltons family is worth $150 billion and grows that wealth by more than $8 million a day. It would take a Brazilian Walmart worker a total of 30 million years to earn the equivalent of the Walton family’s wealth.
Coordinated action will take place in more than 10 countries including Argentina, Brasil, Canada, India, Mexico, and the U.S. The workers’ message to Walmart and the Waltons 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 and treat them with dignity.
Workers, along with members of the UNI Walmart Global Union Alliance, will be taking their grievances to the street, calling on the Walton family who controls Walmart to use their power and wealth to change the company’s culture.
In Gurgaon, India an estimated 300 protesters will assemble outside of Walmart’s headquarters in India to call on Walmart to respect the rights of street vendors across India by ensuring fair competition.
In Miami, USA an estimated hundred people, including Walmart workers that are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), are gathering outside Walmart’s Latin American headquarters to ask Walmart and its billionaire owners, the Waltons, to publicly commit to pay its workers $15 an hour and provide full-time, consistent hours. They are standing with other Walmart workers around the world in the Global Day for Decent Work at Walmart and will deliver petitions backing their call for $15 per hour and full-time work. Outside the headquarters, Walmart workers will speak about their experiences under Walmart working conditions.
In Mexico City, Mexico more than 200 people will protest at the Walmart headquarters to denounce the company’s handling of the corruption allegations and for treatment of workers.
November 19, 2014 also marks the announcement of Walmart’s nomination for the “Lifetime Worst Corporation Award.” Walmart receives this nomination primarily because of its abysmal failure to address adequately the safety concerns of workers in Bangladesh and 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 during the time of the collapse. Online voting is available at www.publiceye.ch/case/walmart.
UNI’s global requests of Walmart are simple:
Living Wages: Extremely low wages along with inconsistent scheduling makes it difficult for workers in many countries to support our families. Fair pay and more hours would let us pay our bills and have enough associates in the store to take care of 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 we have no employment security. We are asking that full time, permanent work 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 retribution from the company. We are harassed and intimidated by management when we try to voice concerns. We are asking for respect, safety and job security when we speak out.
For images and updates throughout the global action day, please follow #WalmartGlobal and visit ActionNetwork.org to view a global map of all activities.