Wal-Mart’s labor abuses

and “rapacity” exposed


An estimated 40 thousand workers of the transnational corporation receive no salary. Union leaders, human rights advocates and small traders of Mexico and the US prepare a resistance plan.


The cost paid by the community for Wal-Mart’s low prices “is too high, as this company represents the most vicious form of capitalism, wringing and exploiting workers, communities and the localities they operate in, besides wrecking havoc on the environment,” Rubén García, a member of Global Exchange, declared.


In the framework of the first Mexico-United States Bi-National Meeting against Wal-Mart, this activist explained that the goal is to create networks of cooperation between both countries in the struggle against the transnational corporation, towards devising a resistance campaign for the next 12 months.


He stated that the bi-national meeting will propose three key activities to be carried out in Mexico against the US company: introduce a “market day” to reach out to people and call on them to shop in the public markets instead of Wal-Mart, “with the aim of protecting these historic traditions;” defend the historic heritage, so that no more stores are opened by this company in front of sites considered part of the cultural heritage of the Mexican people, such as the pyramids of Teotihuacan, or so that “we won’t wake up one day to find one of these stores in the capital’s Zócalo (main square);” and once again denounce Wal-Mart as a “great violator” of workers’ rights, as of the 150 thousand workers it employs in the country, 40 thousand receive no salary or benefits whatsoever. Of these 40 thousand workers, 22 thousand are minors (bag stuffers, known as “cerillos”), and the other 18 thousand are men who watch over vehicles in the store’s parking lots, who subsist with only the tips paid by customers, but whose working hours are set by the company.


For his part, Enrique Bonilla, a member of the National Front against Wal-Mart, declared that 150 small commercial establishments disappear every time this chain opens a store, resulting in approximately 1,500 people losing their jobs, and this is not compensated by job opportunities at Wal-Mart, as each store only hires 80 employees.


Bonilla, who has conducted several investigations on the practices of the transnational corporation, explained that on one opening day alone of any of the chain’s stores, “the sales of small establishments drop by 50 percent.” In addition, traders that lease spaces inside Wal-Mart stores to sell their own products must hand over 50 to 60 percent of their income to Wal-Mart, while the transnational corporation only declares 3 percent of the earnings from these spaces to the relevant authorities.


He also pointed out that another of the irregularities committed by Wal-Mart is that in its stores in US soil, particularly those located near the Mexican border, it sells arms without any control.


Trina Trocco, from the International Labor Rights Fund, highlighted that the abuses committed by the US company are even greater, as it purchases its merchandise at very low prices, thus leading its suppliers to “exploit their workers even more.”


She added that about 70 percent of the products sold by Wal-Mart come from China, so that its earnings are based on the sale of appliances, toys and clothing. Moreover, she says that half of the inspections made to Wal-Mart’s suppliers reveal “violations of the company’s code of conduct,” but that nothing is done about it.


The US activist demanded that the transnational corporation pay suppliers a fair price, to prevent them from exploiting their workers, and that it give priority in its purchases to companies with unionized workers.


The bi-national meeting was attended by unionists, human rights advocates, environmental activists, businesspeople, and representatives of storekeepers and traders, among others. “They are all very diverse people, with different occupations, but with the same problem: Wal-Mart,” concluded Rubén García.


Reprinted from La Jornada

November 13, 2006


 Volver a Portada



  UITA - Secretaría Regional Latinoamericana - Montevideo - Uruguay

Wilson Ferreira Aldunate 1229 / 201 - Tel. (598 2) 900 7473 -  902 1048 -  Fax 903 0905