Hundreds of Walmart workers rallied across dozen cities in the US, protesting against low wages and alleged unjust labour practices and have threatened to go on a nationwide strike on November 23, the ‘Black Friday’, which is said to be the busiest day for the company.
According to news reports, workers held walkouts and marches in cities across the US including those in Dallas, San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington DC, Sacramento and even at its headquarters in Arkansas.
The retail giant dismissed the protests as nothing more than union publicity stunts.
But several union workers asserted that they were serious about going ahead with their strike call if their demands were not met.
According to “Making Change at Walmart” 100 Associates, travelled to the company’s corporate head quarters to call on it to stop trying to silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for job improvements.
“Walmart’s efforts to try to silence us is only building support among our co-workers, in calling for changes at the store. We will not be silenced, especially on ‘Black Friday’ when Walmart wants us to cut short the holiday with our families to help the company profit.
If Walmart wants workers fully committed to the stores on ’Black Friday’, Walmart needs to do more for us, the rest of the days of the year,” Colby Harris, who earns just USD 8.90 an hour after three years of working at Walmart in Lancaster, Texas, said in a press statement.
Company’s spokesman Dan Fogleman in an interview to ABC news refuted the charges and said that majority of the company’s employees are against the idea of strike.
“They seem to recognise that Walmart has some of the best jobs in the retail industry - good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement,” he said.
Walmart and its practices have made the news a lot, lately.
In mid-September, warehouse workers in Southern California were on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs.
Around the same time, hundreds of people marched in Dallas and San Diego, demanding better work conditions, the news channel said.
Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in US, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 a.m. or earlier and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season.
Hector Sanchez, executive director of the Labour Council for Latin American Advancement alleged that as the largest employer of African Americans, women and Latinos, Walmart, through its low wages, lack of benefits, and discriminatory employment policies, is eroding the foundation that the middle class was built upon.
In another statement, “Our Walmart” said that workers from stores throughout the Dallas area, went on strike on Tuesday in the first-ever Walmart Associate walk-out in Dallas, protesting attempts to silence, and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements in the job.
Walmart workers from stores in Miami, the DC-area, Sacramento, Southern California and the Bay-area are also walking off the job, it added.